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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Ethnic German's New Agenda: Living Rights, Not Emigration

Securing the rights of ethnic Germans still living in the former Soviet Union will be the focus of the Third Congress of Ethnic Germans to be held in Moscow this weekend, organizers said Wednesday.

The theme of the congress represents a significant shift of focus from previous meetings, where immediate emigration to Germany always dominated the agenda.

"We need to work together to overcome the problems which all ethnic Germans face who live in the former Soviet Union", Heinrich Groth, chairman of the Interstate Council on Rehabilitation of Ethnic Germans said. "A lot of work still remains, and we must join forces".

During the three-day conference in Moscow's Dom Kino, delegates from as far away as Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan will discuss a new approach to the resolution of the many problems facing ethnic Germans who can not or do not wish to leave, Groth said.

German embassy press attache Enno Barker said in an interview that the number of exit visas had increased 50 percent from 1991 to 1992. Last year 190, 000 ethnic Germans emigrated to their native soil, he added.

Ethnic Germans were driven from their Volga river homeland by Stalin in 1941 and scattered around the former Soviet Union. Hopes of returning to the Volga, were dashed last year when President Boris Yeltsin issued a decree giving the ethnic Germans a former missile testing site - Kasputin Yar.

Members, of the cultural organization "Wiedergeburt" (Re-birth) and the Interstate Council say hope for the realization of a homeland has been lost. Groth said that the Russian government has been reluctant to help, and the ethnic Germans themselves had lost the desire to create such a land.