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Former USSR: Fewer Ethnic Germans Emigrating Home

Munich, 2 April 1997 (RFE/RL) - The flood of ethnic Germans emigrating to Germany from the former Soviet Union, Romania and Poland is dropping sharply, according to the German interior ministry.

Figures released today show that in the first three months of this year 33,797 ethnic Germans arrived from these three areas. This is 7,147 less than in the first three months of last year -- a drop of 17 percent.

The state secretary in the Interior Ministry, Horst Waffenschmidt, said most of the emigrants now come from the former Soviet Union, including Asian republics which are now independent, such as Kazakhstan.

In March a total of 9,642 emigrants were registered of which 9,440 came from the former Soviet Union. There were 134 from Romania, 62 from Poland and six from other east European countries.

Waffenschmidt said emigration of ethnic Germans had been falling steadily over the past three or four years. One reason was that many ethnic Germans from the Asiatic states of the former Soviet Union now preferred to move to German-speaking areas of Russia instead of emigrating to Germany.

Many others fail to meet the language requirements imposed by Bonn. Waffenschmidt said that since last year would-be emigrants have had to pass a stiffer language test and must be able to conduct at least a simple conversation in German. He said 30 percent of those who took the test failed to meet the requirements.

Waffenschmidt said Germany was helping develop language schools to help those who wanted to emigrate. As of last month, 2,293 German courses were being conducted in 360 towns in Russia and Kazakhstan.

Those wishing to emigrate to Germany must be able to prove by official papers or other documents that they are ethnic Germans. Those accepted for emigration receive help with accommodation and social benefits when they arrive in Germany.