City ceremonies confirm last ever citizenship conversions
Following Parliament’s decision to approve dual nationality, next year’s citizenship ceremonies will be the most keenly anticipated in history.
The new dual citizenship law, which was passed in December, is expected to come into effect in September. It will enable scores of internationals who have lived here for decades to finally become Danes without having to give up their nationality.
Life-transforming for many
However, the thousands (specifically 2,967 this year) who officially became Danish citizens on Sunday regard the price of their nationality as a small price to pay to become Danish – a status that will logistically transform their lives in so many different ways.
For the majority concerned, their futures will no longer look uncertain. It will remove their doubts and insecurities. In short, it was for some the happiest day of their life.
A monumental day
So while the new citizens of Denmark didn’t graduate with the same degree of excitement and media interest as the class of 2016, the occasion was no less monumental.
And don’t forget that they were actually the first new citizens to have sat the new Statsborgerskabsprøven, the citizenship test that was revised in June 2014.
Presenting three new Danes
On Sunday at Folketinget in Christiansborg, they pledged their allegiance and loyalty to their new country and become officially Danish.
We spoke to three of them to find out what it’s like to take such a transformative step and what becoming Danish means to the last generation doing so at the expense of their current nationality.
Guennadi Krassovski fell in love with a Danish woman visiting Russia on holiday in 2003. One year later they married and Krassovski moved to Denmark.
The couple have been living in Copenhagen since 2004 and love having the city parks to visit together. “I love how the ponds are clean and the trees are green,” enthused Krassovski about his favourite spot in the city.
The capital is the only part of Denmark that Krassovski has lived in, but he doesn’t mind. The variety that Copenhagen offers makes it a place where Krassovski feels right at home, and having his wife and her loving family in the city just makes it sweeter.
Friendly and safe
Krassovski admits to generally preferring the Danish people over Russians. “In most cases they are not as aggressive,” he said reflecting on the generally laid-back and friendly manner of his Danish friends.
Krassovski also mentioned that becoming a part of the Danish community was easy for him because he generally felt safe and welcomed: “More or less, we feel protected in Denmark so we can be ourselves.”
The language hurdle
The most difficult part of Krassovski’s journey to become a Danish citizen wasn’t fitting into the culture, but learning the language. Already fluent in three languages, Krassovski prevailed with the help of his Danish language classes and spending lots of quality time with his now wife’s family. He has become a natural at speaking Danish … and eating pickled herring.
Despite finding the national language of Danish a bit difficult to learn, Krassovski will happily use his Danish language skills to vow his loyalty to Denmark with the other 1,606 new citizens.
Not every new citizen who moved to Denmark did so as part of a fairy-tale love story of happiness and success. When Baktash Samadi moved here with his mother in 2000 it was after many struggles. Living in Afghanistan, he lost his father when he was only three years old.
Samadi and his older siblings moved to Pakistan a year after the death of their father, but didn’t end up staying long before they came to Denmark. Here, in Copenhagen, Baktash and his family felt immediately relieved and grateful to be living in a place where the citizens were free to do as they pleased.
World of opportunity
Samadi in particular appreciates the free education he was able to receive. “I love mathematics and I plan on going to university to study finance in 2016,” he said.
Besides schooling, Samadi’s future plans include moving out of central Copenhagen and living in Gentofte with his mother. Although he is 23 years old, Samadi isn’t ashamed to be excited about visiting the amusement park near his mother’s home, as Bakken is one of his favorite places to have a good time in Copenhagen.
Big plans include Big Apple
Although he enjoys being in the quiet of the countryside visiting his mother, he doesn’t let that hold him back. Samadi is proud to have just received his passport and dreams of someday soon travelling to New York on vacation.
As for his time in Copenhagen, Samadi brags that he speaks both better Danish and English than his siblings who all arrived in Denmark when they were young
teenagers. He also mentions how proud he is to be working with the elderly in Copenhagen. Samadi has been trained to help ageing Danes in their homes and values his time getting to know their stories.
A Dane and a drinker
When he isn’t helping the elderly or visiting his mother, Samadi will stay in the city and hang out with his friends. He remarks that his Danish friends drink a lot more alcohol than people in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Samadi often enjoys grabbing a beer and smørrebrød with pals in the city and admits that they have started to call him a Dane and a drinker as well. “The only thing I miss about Afhganistan is my dad”, he said.
ANNA M FAGERTUN
“My husband says eating liquorice candy should be in the test for obtaining citizenship. If you can eat one without puking your guts out, you deserve the passport,” joked Anna Manolova Fagertun, 33, who moved here from Bulgaria eleven years ago. She can still only stomach a few mouthfuls today.
Fagertun didn’t apply for her Danish citizenship because of the candy, but because she had made Copenhagen her home. In 2004 she came here to study, and after gaining her PhD she secured a job in the city.
Never going back
“I have always known that I would not go back to Bulgaria,” recalled Fagertun. After having a stable job and stable relationship she decided to make her future in Denmark and applied for her citizenship.
Fagertun regards the country of Denmark as a peaceful, ordered, and respectful place where the people have positive attitudes, which she appreciates. “I always liked the people here right from the start,” she said.
Not a natural choice
Despite having Danish friends, Fagertun took pleasure in reading the citizenship exam book as it gave her a good understanding of how Danish society is structured.
If Fagertun had to choose one thing that she misses about Bulgaria it would be the beautiful mountains, nature and weather. She hates the cold and the wind here in Copenhagen, but besides the liquorice and Danish chilliness, Fagertun is happy to call Denmark her home.
She even enjoys eating the rugbrød.
GUENNADI KRASSOVSKI BAKTASH SAMADI ANNA M FAGERTUN
• Age: 52 • Age: 23 • Age: 33
• Originally from: Russia • Afghanistan • Bulgaria
• Moved here: 2004 • 2000 • 2004
• Reason for moving: Love • Refugee • Studies
• Most Danish trait: • likes beer, Bakken • likes rugbrød
Eating pickled herring and smørrebrød
• Denmark is … safe, welcoming, peaceful • … free and fun • …laid-back, ordered, respectful
Note from editor: This story originally appeared in last week’s Weekly Post newspaper. Due to an oversight, it was not published online as planned on Friday evening and has been accordingly updated.
We were present at the citizenship ceremonies and plan to publish photos from the occasion in either our next edition of the Weekly Post, or the one after that.