Suzan Fraser, WTOP-AM (Washington, DC), October 19, 2010
Turkey’s president on Tuesday urged politicians in Germany not to exploit the issue of immigration for political gain and said they should instead help Turks better integrate.
Abdullah Gul was speaking at a joint news conference with German President Christian Wulff who is paying a five-day visit to Turkey while his country is increasingly debating the integration of millions of foreigners.
“Instead of using the issue of integration politically, everyone must help reach a solution,” the Turkish president told reporters.
Gul said Turks living in Germany should learn to speak German “for their own sakes, for the sake of their families, and so that they may be of use for their environment and society.”
The Turkish president said however, both Germany and Turkey had failed to provide sufficient guidance to Turkish immigrants, many of whom went to Germany as “guest workers” in the 1960s to help rebuild postwar Germany.
“We should not blame them,” he said. “Many went to German cities (from Turkish villages) without even having seen a (Turkish) city. Neither we nor you were able to provide the necessary leadership.”
Wulff said that many immigrants had successfully integrated in Germany but said Germans’ fears over “religious fundamentalism and terrorism” could not be ignored.
Germany is home to an estimated 5 million Muslims, including some 3 million Turks.
Many immigrants speak little or no German, work in low paying jobs or live off of government handouts at the same time the country faces an aging population and a shortage of highly skilled workers.