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Erdogan criticizes German attitude to Turks
Photo: DPA

Erdogan criticizes German attitude to Turks

Published: 02 Nov 2011 08:45 GMT+01:00
Updated: 02 Nov 2011 14:01 GMT+01:00

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan criticized Germany’s attitude to its Turkish minority on his arrival in Berlin to celebrate the 50th anniversary of a "guest worker" agreement between the two countries.

Erdogan's ceremonial trip to Germany has been free of friction so far. He was given an official reception at the palace of German President Christian Wulff on Tuesday evening, and he will met Chancellor Angela Merkel at an event on Wednesday.

Merkel praised the first Turks who came to support West Germany's booming economy five decades ago. "That was a courageous step," she said, adding that successful integration of immigrants was a "joint achievement" of both Turks and Germans.

"Living together is always a give and take," she said.

But Erdogan's remarks in the run-up to his visit were less harmonious.

“German politicians do not acknowledge the contribution of the three million Turks in Germany enough,” he told the mass circulation Bild newspaper. He said there were 72,000 Turkish employers in Germany who provide 350,000 jobs.

“The guest workers of yesterday are slowly becoming the employers, academics, artists,” the Turkish head of government said.

Erdogan also criticized the insistence on learning German as a condition of living in Germany. He said this was unsupported in the relevant EU guidelines. "Making knowledge of German an important condition is against human rights," he said.

Erdogan’s remarks have drawn a harsh response from German politicians. Green party spokesman Memet Kilic accused the Turkish prime minister of playing up to conservatives at home.

“The Turkish government of Prime Minister Erdogan consciously stokes up prejudices against Germany, in order to score points with hardliners in their own country,” he told the Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung on Wednesday.

Kilic also slammed Erdogan for accusing German NGOs working in Turkey of providing indirect financial support to the Kurdish separatist group PKK. “Erdogan should apologize in Germany for his statements,” he said.

German Interior Minister Hans-Peter Friedrich admitted Germany had made mistakes in its integration policy in the past 50 years. “Unfortunately we allowed them to live together in districts in which they don’t have, or don’t want to have, contact to Germans,” he told broadcaster ZDF on Wednesday.

But Friedrich also reiterated the government’s opposition to granting dual citizenship. He said if immigrants want to stay in Germany, they should become German citizens. “And then they’re not Turks anymore,” he said.

The intractable issue of Turkey's accession to the European Union is also a focus of this trip.

Erdogan said that Turks still regard the German people “with very positive feelings.” For that reason, he called on Germany to show more solidarity with Turkey. “German politicians should do much more to help Turkey enter the EU. That would drive integration forward a lot,” he said. “We feel like we’re being let down here.”

Turkey’s booming economy – currently reporting growth of ten percent – means that it is becoming less and less dependent on German imports.

A recent statement by Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle suggests the scale of the concern for industry in this country. “We have to open the door to Europe very wide for Turkey, instead of constantly putting up new obstacles until one day Turkey turns away.”

DAPD/The Local/bk

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

10:03 November 2, 2011 by Kurd_007
Mr Erdogan may have a point, but for his argument to be credible his government should first recognise the universal rights of Kurdish and other minorities who lived in north mesopotamia and anatolia long before Turks arrival from central asia.

there may be racism in germany as in anywhere else in the world, but from our experience as Kurds..despite Turkey's pressure, Germany is much more respective of our cultural rights than our native country Turkey.
10:24 November 2, 2011 by TheCrownPrince
Erdogan has no point at all. Saying that the demand for turks in Germany to speak proper German is violating human rights is ridiculous. They decided to live here, so let them learn the language. I would like to know what Erdogan said if 3 million "Germans" (or people of german descent) lived in Turkey without knowing (or hardly speaking) Turkish; or what he said if every two years or so the German President flew over to Turkey making big speeches telling those "Germans" please not to integrate too much in turkish society, after all they were still "Germans", not Turks! Erdogan would be very amused, I bet.

If he cares so much about the wellbeing of the Turks in Germany maybe he can take some of them home with him to care even more. Speaking of human rights, Erdogan is one of the last to open his mouth, regarding the situation of the Kurds, the genocide of the Armenians, the situation of Christians in Turkey etc. I'm so tired of this muscle-playing, hopefully Merkel gives him a cold shoulder.
11:14 November 2, 2011 by LecteurX
This Erdogan bloke is really ridiculous. Since when is learning a new language a "violation of human rights"? It's very sad that for reasons of realpolitik, no European politician can stand up to him and give him a middle-finger answer, which he has deserved for a while now.
11:58 November 2, 2011 by Germanium
I must tell you that, of course, Turkish people must learn German if they live here, like Kurdish people must learn Turkish who lives in Turkey.

But for sure, people do not have to use it if it is something in their personal life. I mean, nobody can tell people "if you are in Germany, you must speak to people (friends etc.) in German in your private life." (like Kurdish people in Turkey). This is clear. If you are in a government office in any country, you are expected to speak the native language.

The things which are told in previous comments are pointless and will only serve mess and fascism.

Also, in that news, to tell truth, I could not see anything which is related to "genocide!" (which EU people like most to talk about in every matter). This is really funny.
12:09 November 2, 2011 by storymann
I do not believe Erdogan thinks for one nano second Turkey will ever enter the EU.

He has moved his government towards the east and an Islamic republic.

I would think he is more inclined to think in terms of a future Arabic coalition.

Remarks that people of other descents asking for citizenship, should not be required to learn the host countries language is obtuse.

Belgium is a good example of in house language problems.
12:54 November 2, 2011 by Joseph Thomas
I visit friends in Germany for a week or two each year, and I've been studying and learning to speak German for several years........just to be a better part of the society for that annual visit. It certainly would be one of my highest priorities to learn any language if I lived there year round. I can't imagine otherwise, unless I was elderly or cognitively impaired.
13:40 November 2, 2011 by SchwabHallRocks
Whether it's Erdogran complaining about the treatment of Turks in Germany, or the President of Mexico complaining about the treatment of Mexicans in the USA, it's all due to the same problem.

"Native" Germans, Americans, French, Japanese, etc. are not reproducing enough to maintain the population "pyramid" needed to support domestic economic growth or the welfare / pension plans.

These countries (Germany, USA, France) truly need these people (Turks, Mexican).

So, either "get busy" and start having more children or just accept that they (Turkey, Mexico) are going to be complaining more, and more, and more, since they are essential to the survival of the economic systems of the industrialized countries. Or... invent a new economic system.

But, "getting busy" would be a lot more fun.
15:55 November 2, 2011 by finanzdoktor
Herr Prezident Erdogran should get his facts correct. If I, a non-Turk (and also a non-European) want to be employed in the German private sector, I must be certified to have obtained a certain level of understanding the German language. Now, if this is the same for myself and everyone else, why shouldn't it be the same for others?????
16:03 November 2, 2011 by Sastry.M
In my opinion, attrition of population in the so called highly advanced countries, is due to the spirit of their people tied up to profitable financial management of living rather than bear the responsibility procreative sustenance of human life as willed by Providence. For example, pornographic industry may generate more finances to live comfortably by couples than procreated offspring, creating burden on both family and government, implying many responsibilities.

Muslims in India, although generally poor financially, breed large families and somehow survive amicably. They answer any question to mean that God's Grace cannot be abridged with ephemeral wishes of human beings, by simply saying, it is all "Allah ki Dua" or the 'Grace of God'. Probably it serves no purpose blaming contracted guest workers with imbued contentment.
16:06 November 2, 2011 by catjones
The article implies that when Turks were lured to DL as guest workers, there was no language requirement; probably because of the 'temporary' (aka stupid) expectation of their stay. To post facto make language a requirement may be the reference.
18:10 November 2, 2011 by ovalle3.14
"Making knowledge of German an important condition is against human rights," - Funny comment from the leader of a country that requires you to change your name to a Turkish one in order to gain citizenship.
18:39 November 2, 2011 by koll
@kurd-007

Majority of Turkey's kurdish population came from iran at 16. century long after Turks came to Anatolia at 11. century.And southeast anatolian kurds accepted ottoman hegemony with free will for protection against the iran.
21:32 November 2, 2011 by zubuque
"Making knowledge of German an important condition is against human rights,"...

This is a distorted news. He made this comment about the proof of basic German requirement for family reunification visa. This is a common belief that it is a violation of constitutional protection of family. What he meant was that this procedure violates German constitution and European laws.

It is very simple to distort a news...but it is very hard to understand a comment if you don't want to really understand it..

Finally, take a look at this case : http://www.lg2g.info/Foreigners-Law_Articles-on-Residency/proof-of-german-knowledge-when-immigrating-to-a-german.html
22:02 November 2, 2011 by Englishted
The more he speaks the less chance of Turkey getting into Europe so it is not all bad
23:43 November 2, 2011 by hanskarl
"The more he speaks the less chance of Turkey getting into Europe so it is not all bad ." Well, true but he could take all of the Turkish immigrants and Turkish Germans back to Turkey and then he create his own "little European Union."
00:22 November 3, 2011 by hardrada
As being a Turk, I have never imagined myself defending PM Erdogan one day but I think some of you here really need to get educated: As the only informed commentator under this article, namely, zubuque points out (I think the rest of the most of the commentators here are quite biased and as in the case of hanskari and some others indeed quite racist, too), Erdogan's objection to learning German as a condition is as to the German law that you cannot marry a non-German and live together in Germany as your spouse does not speak German; yes, in the most ideal world you would expect every resident of the country to speak its major language but come on, just think about it! Can you imagine the US passing a law about the Mexican immigrants in the US, which prohibits to have your spouse from Mexico if he/she does not speak English? Would you really keep a straight face and naturally expect someone's wife to learn German then get married before arriving in the country? The German state tells you whom to marry and then you can claim that there is no violation of human rights in that? The very same Erdogan just two days ago called on the Turkish immigrants to learn German as good as they can and contribute to the society in the best way they do (I guess, The Local simply puts this aside as it is not in harmony with its own agenda - what is easier in journalism than defaming Turks in the country, right?) and a month ago when President Gül visited Germany, he actually again called on the Turkish immigrants to learn and speak German without an accent (which is quite stupid if you really think about it). Yeah, Turks are not übermensch unlike Germans but at least you can try not to distort the news and take someone's speech into quite different directions if you are a journalist on one hand (especially if you dare to report from Bild) and you can first verify through a more objective website and then bash on Turkey and Turkish people if you would like to comment on the other hand.
02:30 November 3, 2011 by hanskarl
Nothing racist intended. Merely a response after reading the article. But if one wants to discuss diversity and the feel good mentality inculcated in its presentation, that is a different story.

Prime Minister Erdogans remarks prior to the visit while appeasing the conservatives back home could possibly bolster and incite the intentions of others with a nationalistic passion. It doesn't take much research to realize there are vast differences culturally between Europe and Turkey let along between each individual EU country. And a cursory review of history tells us much. Germany is Germany and when one commits to making Germany their home they are committing to follow the Basic law and all of its tenets. Ones personal rights and culture while acceptable back home are usurped with ones decision to live here even if it is temporary, which is hardly the case in most instances.

Cultural diversity is a wolf in sheeps clothing. There are big differences in how one views personal responsibility, religion, society, attitude, education, relationships. Add to that the vacuum created by one of the lowest birthrates in the EU and the extremely large families among immigrants and an uneasiness among nationals should be expected. This trend I suggest somewhat exists in the US as well. Only there it is a matter of tens of millions of illegals. The US has its own set of problems in this area but they are similar in many ways. My sense on the toughness of the immigration laws in Germany is this is the governments attempt to stem the tide of immigration if not get those in country to accept Germany as it is and not demand change.

When one looks at what is happening in the EU and in the US with immigration one begins to realise and see recognise and understand the subtle change in demographics. The result is some see the change and do not like it yet they remain silent. But while remaining silent they may begin to wonder if the shrill cry of the far right , while not at all in a agreement with their philosophy and policy, may have a grain of in it.

If you want to live in Germany become a German through and through. You still have your cultural heritage to relate to and you still have your former homeland to visit and consider. Don't impose your culture and your nationalism on your new homeland. One gives up that right when they determine to live somewhere else. And when your former homelands Prime Minister makes scurrilous commentary prior to visiting your new homeland let them know they are wrong.
10:54 November 3, 2011 by LecteurX
So The Local Germany says this: "Erdogan also criticized the insistence on learning German as a condition of living in Germany. He said this was unsupported in the relevant EU guidelines. "Making knowledge of German an important condition is against human rights," he said."

And this was about the spouses of immigrants? Oh dear, then this is the worst piece of journalism ever. This site is a rag.
10:30 November 4, 2011 by Asgarli
"Making knowledge of German an important condition is against human rights,"

So true! Immigrants should not be FORCED to learn German, but SEDUCED to it! Like does Spain force immigrants to learn Spanish, France to learn French or UK to learn English? Immigrants in those countries do it themselves, without anyone forcing them to do so! German politicians should take example from them!
13:22 November 4, 2011 by Dizz
Wait! hold on, let me find a chair. Whoo! Okay, okay. A sensible comment from Westerwelle. Nearly fell over right then. Phew.
22:19 November 4, 2011 by nebulon
10:30 November 4, 2011 by Asgarli

"So true! Immigrants should not be FORCED to learn German, but SEDUCED to it! Like does Spain force immigrants to learn Spanish, France to learn French or UK to learn English? Immigrants in those countries do it themselves, without anyone forcing them to do so! German politicians should take example from them! "

Thank you Asgarli, and in the meantime let the taxpayer keep paying for Interpreters because your Countrymen can't be bothered to learn the language, and why should they? Der Staat keeps on paying, Good night Europa.
01:37 November 5, 2011 by Motorhead
Let's see, 50 years in Germany and some Turks haven't (won't) learn German. Hmmm. Gee, Mexicans in the US would never consider being so obstinate.
04:50 November 2, 2012 by censored
Actually, being a resident of a border state between Mexico and the U.S. I can tell you that having a rudimentary ability to speak and read English is supposed to be a condition of U.S. citizenship. The number of mexican citizens that have become legal American citizens without having any English comprehension is astonishing. Why make rules that nobody enforces?
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