Why don't former Yugoslavians have citizenship of the modern country they were born in?

  • 30 October 2023
  • 1 reply

I’ve read this article and it made me curious about something.

currently some 126,000 people. Many of them are Palestinians, Kurds or former citizens of the Soviet Union or Yugoslavia — states that don't exist.

Individuals who were born in one of the former Yugoslav republics but were residing in a different republic at the time of independence were given the option to choose the citizenship of the newly independent country they were residing in.

This was often done through naturalization or simplified procedures to avoid creating stateless persons. They had the opportunity to apply for citizenship in one of the successor states based on their ethnic background, residence, or other factors.

For those who were refugees or displaced due to the conflicts in the region, there may have been specific provisions to address their citizenship status. Different countries may have had various measures in place to deal with such situations, aiming to prevent statelessness.

So why are Yugoslavian living in Germany are still stateless?

1 reply

Userlevel 2

Thank you very much for raising the very relevant topic and question relating to the situation of individuals born in the former socialist Yugoslavia.


The disintegration of the former socialist Yugoslavia in the 1990ies, people living in newly established Post-Yugoslav states had limited access to citizenship itself at their place of residence.

One of the main reasons for the occurrence of statelessness is ethnic discrimination targeting for exemple Romani minorities specifically. Refugees and migrants from Yugoslavia belonging to Romani minorities living in Germany can be stateless. 

In Germany statelessness is passed on over generations and access to German nationality for stateless persons is very limited. In order to obtain a nationality, the identity and citizenship or statelessness need to be established. As there is no dedicated procedure in place, it is possible that German authorities refuse to determine statelessness among migrants and descendants of migrants from Yugoslavia. German authorities lack the necessary expertise to assess the very complex but real risk of statelessness in the Post-Yugoslav context. The failure of German authorities to recognize the identity and nationality status is the main barrier to access citizenship for stateless persons in Germany.


For further information on statelessness in the region, please see the

as well as the

We hope this information is useful. If you have any further questions, please feel free to reach out again.