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New Swedes to get obligatory welcome

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New Swedes to get obligatory welcome
10:15 CEST+02:00
Immigrants who are granted Swedish citizenship are set to be given an obligatory welcome ceremony from 2015 with all municipalities participating in a five million kronor ($755,000) annual project which will boost integration according to the government.

The act will become mandatory from January 1st 2015 with the onus on local municipalities (kommuner) to host the annual citizenship ceremonies for new Swedes. Approximately half of Sweden's 290 municipalities currently host the events.

Attendance will be optional for the new citizens.

"The idea is that the ceremonies will promote a sense of belonging and highlight the importance of Swedish citizenship," said minister for integration Erik Ullenhag to SVT news.

At a typical ceremony the new citizen is given their certificate by a member of local government and often a small Swedish flag. A social gathering normally takes place afterwards with traditional Swedish food like princess cake being served.

Crown Princess Victoria and Prince Daniel attended one such ceremony in Stockholm on Sweden's national holiday (June 6th) in 2011.

The annual budget of five million kronor ($755,000) will be distributed to the municipalities in targeted grants.

The minister for integration added that the mandatory ceremonies were an important part of the integration process as the Swedish population is changing.

"We say we want you to be Swedish and to emphasize that it is citizenship that keeps Sweden together. It is also about changing what it is to be Swedish.

"Today, 15 percent of the population was born abroad and with citizenship ceremonies we highlight what it is to be part of the Swedish nation. It's also a way to work towards better integration," he added.

The Local/pr

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