Rösler: Ease visa rules for Turks and Russians
Published: 27 Dec 2012 09:57 GMT+01:00
Updated: 27 Dec 2012 09:57 GMT+01:00
German Economy Minister and Vice Chancellor Philipp Rösler has suggested lifting visa restrictions for Russian and Turkish citizens, as a signal of "welcome and openness," a newspaper reported Thursday.
In a policy paper released by the Economy Ministry and seen by the Saarbrücker Zeitung, Rösler warned that a too-restrictive visa policy could be a "disadvantage in both competition and location." He added that easing restrictions would also give a boost to tourism.
The paper is thought to be the result of Rösler's recent meetings with business leaders in both countries.
The paper directly contradicts Rösler's cabinet colleague, Interior Minister Hans-Peter Friedrich, who on Monday denied calls from Turkey and Russia to ease visa restrictions for all their citizens.
But Rösler received support from another major cabinet member, Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle, Rösler's predecessor as leader of the pro-business Free Democratic Party.
"We're an interconnected country, we live from exports," Westerwelle told the paper. "We need rules that protect out security interests, but don't damage our economic and political interests."
Despite Westerwelle's support, Rösler is facing considerable pressure from within his own party. Reacting to Rösler's poor popularity ratings, the FDP's Dirk Niebel, overseas development minister, said on Wednesday that it was "not absolutely necessary" that Rösler would lead the party into next autumn's general election.
In a Forsa survey released on Wednesday, the FDP, junior partner in Angela Merkel's centre-right coalition, once again slipped below the crucial five percent mark that guarantees representation in the Bundestag.