Alexander Dobrindt stepped up his party's offensive on immigration with his remarks Wednesday night to broadcaster ARD, which are likely to fuel and already incendiary debate on the issue.
“The USA is an immigration country. Germany is not an immigration country. We have a culture that has grown over centuries.”
The hardening stance by the CSU, which is the Bavarian sister party of Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democrats, is also likely to put it at odds with ruling coalition partners the Free Democrats (FDP), which has floated the idea of solving Germany's looming skills shortages by lifting the rate at which educated and qualified immigrants settle here.
On that issue, Dobrindt said the problems had to be solved “without repeating the problems of the last wave of immigration, which we still have not fixed today.”
Regarding his party boss, CSU leader and Bavarian premier Horst Seehofer's recent call to stop Turkish and Arab immigration, Dobrindt said “truth doesn't defame.”
An apology was Seehofer was not necessary, he said. The problems with some immigration groups were bigger than the problems with others, he added.
Seehofer told news magazine Focus at the weekend that “immigrants from other cultures, such as those from Turkey and Arab countries have more difficulties” integrating into German culture. Therefore he had drawn the “conclusion that we need no additional immigration from other cultural areas.”
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Meanwhile a poll released on Wednesday showed that one-tenth of Germans want a “Führer,” while a quarter admitted to strong xenophobic attitudes – up from one-fifth in 2008. The results appeared to show the acrid immigration debate sparked this summer by former Bundesbank board member Thilo Sarrazin was having an effect on the German public.