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Weekly update: German-Ukrainian relations under spotlight

Updated: Feb 3, 2021

By Jack Turner

  • Shortly before the run-off election for the Ukrainian presidency, Angela Merkel has received head of state Petro Poroshenko in Berlin, where they discussed the conflict in the Donbass region and the Crimea. In the run-off election for the presidency on April 21st, Poroshenko is up against the political freshman and comedian Volodimir Selensky who currently leads the polls.

  • His visit has been criticised by some, owing to the fact governments usually want to avoid appearing to take sides for a particular candidate in overseas elections. However, it seems that German government officials are throwing their weight behind Poroshenko’s candidacy. Despite certain criticism and the fact that he has voiced his displeasure at the construction of Nordstream 2, his Europhile agenda is considered stable and trustworthy. Whereas his opponent, with whom the Chancellor has planned no meeting, is regarded as somewhat of an unknown entity.

  • The Federal Ministry of the Interior intends to present a draft for a reform of citizenship law in early autumn, in which anyone who has given the wrong country of origin in the naturalisation process could be stripped of their German passport up to ten years later. Were the legislation to be passed, it would double the deadline length from a five-year period.

  • Last year more than 250 cases were reported, and it is hoped that the extension of this deadline would have some effect, as identity deceivers deliberately reveal their true origin only after five years. The proposed extension has been criticised by the FDP.

  • On Friday, 211 of 709 members of the Bundestag from five political groups (the Greens, the Left, the SPD and the FDP) have pledged their support for proposals seeking a European-organised and financed civilian sea rescue. They are also encouraging that internally detained asylum seekers in Libya are immediately released and evacuated.

  • This call comes in the face of refugees’ situation getting increasingly worse with fewer people being saved at sea. This comes after the EU military mission "Sophia", which had previously salvaged some castaways, was discontinued. According to the UN Refugee Agency, an estimated six people die every day in their attempts. More than 2,200 people died in 2018 attempting to cross the Mediterranean, with the number of unreported cases likely to be significantly higher.

  • Sea rescue is increasingly criminalised with captains threatened with allegations of illegal immigration and with up to 20 years imprisonment and heavy fines.


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