Germany: We’re watching situation of Ukrainian Jews

BERLIN (JTA) — Germany will not loosen its immigration restrictions for Jews from Ukraine, a spokesman for the German Interior Ministry said.

The statement to JTA this week followed conflicting reports as to whether Berlin was planning to greatly ease its immigration regulations to enable Ukrainian Jews to come to Germany.

According to the spokesman, the government was keeping a close eye on developments regarding anti-Semitism in Ukraine and would react quickly if needed.

In a letter to Berlin Jewish community members on Thursday, Berlin Jewish community head Gideon Joffe applauded an easing of immigration restrictions for Ukraine’s Jews following reports of increased anti-Semitism. He said he had received numerous appeals from community members with family or friends in the region.

On June 17, the head of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, Dieter Graumann, included a list of measures to which he said the responsible ministries and authorities had agreed to expedite emigration of Ukrainian Jews who wish to come to Germany. The list of measures was repeated in the Joffe letter.

However, the spokesman for the Interior Ministry, which has a department dedicated to Jewish immigration, told JTA that “a change in the requirements for admission is not planned.”

He said the Foreign Ministry had not found any general increase in anti-Semitic tendencies in Ukraine, but rather an increase in “hooliganism that affects the entire population and not specific population groups.”

Jews from the former Soviet Union, with the exception of the Baltic states, may apply as always to immigrate to Germany, he added.

The spokesman did confirm that there was an agreement with the Foreign Ministry to expedite applications from Ukraine in general, and that an additional employee had been sent to Kiev to help with such applications.

“The federal government will continue to observe the situation carefully and will react quickly if there is a general concrete danger to the Jews of Ukraine,” he added.

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