Germany, Turkey join forces on integration of immigrants
Chancellor Angela Merkel and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan pledged Saturday to do more to improve the often poor integration record of Germany's 2.5-million-strong Turkish minority.
Germany plans to use celebrations in October 2011 for the 50th anniversary of a key immigration agreement on "Gastarbeiter" ("guest workers") between Germany and Turkey to "take stock", Merkel said after talks with Erdogan.
The integration of immigrants, particularly Muslims, has been a hot issue since August when a central banker said that Germany was being made "more stupid" by poorly educated and unproductive Muslims.
"We propose that everywhere in cities and towns where there are people of Turkish origin, we use this event as a way of taking stock and seeing where we are and what has to be done," Merkel told reporters.
"There are clear problems still which we want to solve when it comes to integration. On the Turkish side there is a large desire to help as much as it can, and to stand by our side in a constructive manner."
Erdogan he would attend events marking the anniversary of the 1961 agreement, which saw West Germany allow in large numbers of Turkish immigrants to provide workers for its postwar "economic miracle".
"I am of course in favour of people of Turkish origin here in Germany integrating, for their own happiness, and for the happiness and future of German society," Erdogan said.
"And if they have been in Germany for 50 years, then this is obviously required, so that people can live together peacefully."
Merkel's government acknowledges that it has considerable work to do, with statistics showing that immigrants do worse at school and in the labour market, exacerbating feelings of social exclusion among young Muslims, experts say.
© 2010 AFP