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EU court rules against German language tests

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BERLIN (AP) - A European Union court ruled Thursday that Germany can't require the spouses of Turkish immigrants to show basic knowledge of the German language as a condition for being granted a visa.

Since 2007, Berlin has required spouses of long-term immigrants from outside the EU who want to join their partners in Germany to take a language test. The stated aim of the rule was to prevent forced marriages and improve integration of immigrants.

However, the European Court of Justice ruled that, in the case of Turkish immigrants, the requirement clashes with an EU-Turkey accord from the early 1970s that prohibited "the introduction of new restrictions on the freedom of establishment."

The court ruled after considering the case of a Turkish woman refused a visa to join her husband, a businessman who has lived in Germany since 1998, because she didn't know the language well enough.

Guenter Krings, a deputy interior minister, said the German government would "examine carefully" the implications of the court's ruling, but stressed that it applies only to Turkish nationals. Immigrants' spouses from other countries will still have to prove knowledge of the German language, he said in a statement.

The Turkish Community in Germany, the main group representing the country's large minority of people of Turkish origin, welcomed the ruling and urged the government to apply it immediately both to Turks and to people from other countries.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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