'Germany no easy country,' vice chancellor tells refugees
Germany is "not an easy country", Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel on Tuesday warned refugees who have flocked to the EU's top economy, reiterating Berlin's pledge to welcome and integrate them.
Gabriel, who is also economy minister, was speaking of challenges and opportunities as Europe's most populous country this year expects to take in between 800,000 and one million asylum seekers.
"Germany is not just any country, and not an easy country," he told a business forum in Berlin. "You don't become a world export champion without a relatively demanding work culture."
He said that while "everything you need to know" about German society and values "is summarised in the first 20 articles of our constitution, one does not become a constitutional expert just by crossing the border."
He called on Germans of foreign origin, heirs of previous waves of immigration, to act as intermediaries and explain the country to newcomers.
Germany, where about one fifth of the population is of foreign origin, took in many immigrant workers in the 60s and 70s, and citizens of the former Yugoslavia and Soviet Union in the 1990s.
Gabriel said the newcomers could fill gaps in the German labour market as the population is set to shrink and the pension burden will grow amid a very low birth rate and high life expectancy.
On the migrant wave, he said that "we aren't taking them in because we want to solve the demographic problem, but because they're fleeing war, civil war and repression".
"But, given that they're here, we would be crazy if we didn't try to make them the professionals of tomorrow. That's something we have to get better at.
He added that "we are a country that can't deal well with chaos. We like order and have a regulation for everything -- except for one million refugees in a single year."
© 2015 AFP