Muslims Must Integrate, Says German Conservative Leader

Deutsche Presse-Agentur, Dec. 7

DUESSELDORF—Turkey must be barred from joining the European Union due to its “culture” and Muslims in Germany have to make far bigger efforts to integrate, Bavarian Premier Edmund Stoiber told opposition conservatives on Tuesday.

“An out-of-Europe nation like Turkey with its different history and diffent cultural traditions will not fit into Europe,” said Stoiber in a speech to a Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party congress.

Stoiber, who was narrowly defeated by Social Democratic Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder in Germany’s 2002 general election, said he backed a rejectionist stance to Turkish EU membership outlined by CDU

chief Angela on Monday.

Highlighting of Turkey by both leaders indicates the CDU/CSU sees a “nein” to Ankara’s EU membership as a sure vote winner in the next election in 2006 in which Merkel expected to be Schroeder’s challenger.

Stoiber said Turkey and the 25 EU member states were divided by a host of issues including economy, geography and finances but “above all by cultural differences”.

Taking in Turkey would reduce the EU to a mere free trade zone and put too much strain on the Union’s joint institutions, said Stoiber.

EU leaders are due to decide on whether to begin membership negotiations with Turkey at a 16 to 17 December summit in Brussels. Even if a green light is given, accession talks are expected to last up to 15 years.

Stoiber also had blunt words for the estimated 3.4 million Moslems living in Germany of whom ethnic Turks comprise about 2.5 million.

“Our nation demands from immigrants the will to integrate,” he said, adding that the chief problem today was a lack of will by the second and third generation born in German to do this.

Those living in Germany have to learn the language, accept German values and send their children to German schools, he said.

There was no space in Germany for “preachers of hate” or the oppression of women, Stoiber said.

“To those who do not want to accept this, all we can say is ‘you picked the wrong country’,” he said to applause.

Stoiber insisted German patriotism was not aimed at foreigners but rather at getting all those who lived in the country to accept Germany’s rule of law and democracy.

On other issues, Stoiber slammed Schroeder for Germany’s weak economy and said the CDU/CSU needed to take power in 2006 to push through big state spending cuts and other reforms to cut unemployment which is over 10 percent and rising.

He also called for scrapping a Schroeder government ban on nuclear power stations under which all such plants—currently producing 30 percent of German electricity—will be phased out in the next two decades.

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