Merkel says she will press Turkey on integration of immigrants
German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who is set to arrive in Turkey Monday on a visit, says she will press Ankara to help integrate Turkish immigrants into German society.
Merkel, who has advocated more effort to teach immigrants to speak German fluently, made her remarks in her weekly video message posted on her official website Sunday. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan recently said the immigrants needed Turkish-language schools, dpa reported.
"We very often discuss the integration of the Turkish-origin women and men who live among us, and of the young people too.
"We say very clearly that we don't mean by this assimilation or giving up one's roots. What we want is people who live among us over several generations to integrate into this country, meaning being included in social advances, in working life and in family life.
"That obviously involves learning the German language and obeying German laws," she said.
Integration has been a source of tension. Two years ago, Erdogan told a hall full of supporters in the German city of Cologne that they were at risk of "assimilation," which he called a "crime against humanity," and appealed to them not to surrender "national identity."
Last week the issue reignited when he called anew for Germany to set up Turkish-language high schools to encourage academic excellence among the immigrants. There are already six Turkish-language schools in Germany, but Berlin in not enthusiastic about them.
Merkel's trip will take her to Ankara and Istanbul. In the capital she is set to meet with Erdogan and President Abdullah Gul.
Merkel was upbeat in the podcast, saying "I'm looking forward to this trip."
She said, "We cooperate in NATO and we have very good bilateral relations."
The visit will be Merkel's second to Turkey as chancellor.