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Wulff urges Turkey to respect Christians

The Local · 19 Oct 2010, 18:04

Published: 19 Oct 2010 18:04 GMT+02:00

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Wulff made the appeal after talks with Turkish leaders in Ankara, dominated by a simmering debate in Germany on whether efforts to integrate Muslim immigrants, many of them Turks, had failed.

Wulff, the first German president to visit Turkey in a decade, stressed the freedoms Muslims enjoy in Germany and urged Islamic countries to reciprocate.

"We expect that Christians in Muslim countries have the same rights to live their faith publicly, educate new clergy and build churches," he said in a speech at Turkey's parliament.

"Religious freedom is part of our understanding of Europe as a community of values," he said.

Turkey's non-Muslim communities, mainly Orthodox Greeks, Armenians and Jews, complain mostly of restrictions on property rights and theological education.

Several attacks on Christians, including the murders of a German missionary in 2007 and the head of Turkey's Roman Catholic Church in June, have fanned fears that hostility against non-Muslims is on the rise in Turkey.

Earlier, Wulff issued a conciliatory message aimed at easing a heated debate in Germany over faltering efforts to integrate Muslim immigrants.

"We are old friends.... The things that connect us are much more than the things that keep us apart," he said after talks with Turkish counterpart Abdullah Gül.

Wulff's remarks came just days after Chancellor Angela Merkel said Germany's efforts to create a multi-cultural society had failed and urged immigrants to integrate, learn German and adopt German culture and values.

Germany has four million Muslims among its 82 million inhabitants, with 2.5 million Turks forming the largest ethnic minority. While many later-generation Turks have integrated with German society, large sections have never learned German and live in closed communities.

Wulff stressed the immigrants' reliance on state benefits, crime rate, machismo and rejection of education as major problems hindering integration.

Gül renewed a call on Turkish immigrants to learn the German language, but stressed that "instead of using the integration problem politically, everybody must help find a solution."

The debate in Germany flared after ex-central banker Thilo Sarrazin said immigrants were making Germany "more stupid."

There have also been concerns that Muslim failure to integrate is breeding homegrown Islamist extremists in Germany.

Wulff praised Turkey's growing role in regional affairs, but reiterated Berlin's position that the country's EU accession talks were open-ended and did not guarantee full membership.

Along with French President Nicolas Sarkozy, Merkel argues that Turkey has no place in Europe and should settle for a "privileged partnership" instead of membership - a proposal Ankara categorically rejects.

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Wulff also met Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Turkey's highest Muslim religious official, Ali Bardakoglu.

Despite political differences, Germany remains Turkey's principal economic partner, with bilateral trade standing at $23.8 billion (€17 billion) in 2009.

Wulff's four-day visit was to take him also to Kayseri, a booming industrial city in central Turkey, the nearby Cappadocia region famous for its cone-shaped rock formations and the historic Saint Paul's Church in Tarsus.

He will also visit Istanbul to meet Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I, the spiritual leader of the world's Orthodox Christians, and lay the foundation of a Turkish-German university before leaving Friday.


The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

18:38 October 19, 2010 by marimay
"Turkey's non-Muslim communities, mainly Orthodox Greeks, Armenians and Jews, complain..."

Yeah, this is normal in any country they're in. Sorry.
21:04 October 19, 2010 by mehdiking
Wow.... Turkish - German University ..... Nice ... What do you say if Turkish merge with German and make one nation with one Flag .... :P ...... With secular society respect Christians and build new chruches in Turkey
00:48 October 20, 2010 by Stenzel
or how about the Turks go back to their home country, fix its problems and live there.. Germany is for the Germans, who have lived there for thousands of years..

Germans need to go back to some sort of National Socialism, but a peaceful one without an aggressive leader..

Germans all have nordic blood, and need to preserve their race, race mixing should not be sought out for...

Turkey is for the turks,

Russia for Russians

Kenya for the Kenyans

und Deutschland fur die Deutschen!
00:57 October 20, 2010 by mehdiking
@stenzel ..... Ok No problem :P ..... No Globalization ........ Ever One should go back Home ..... Also stop Globlization business also :P
01:30 October 20, 2010 by Logic Guy
Well, Stenzel is saying things that many German citizens are beginning to say. And even Angela Merkel is being forced to listen to them, and therefore change. And I will go a step further and say "Germany doesn't want anymore wars. The past is the past. We simply want to preserve the German people and culture, just like every other nation."
03:16 October 20, 2010 by crm114
not only German citizens, almost all of Germany's neighbours are thinking and increasingly saying the same thing - that we are sick to the back teeth of Islam.
15:27 October 20, 2010 by stafusa
I can't believe someone can come and say such a bulls* as stenzel did, without being bashed... I'll just point out some basic relevant facts.

"how about the Turks go back to their home country, fix its problems and live there"

How about Germany fix its problems without looking for a scapegoat?

First of all, they are not Turks, they've got the papers - and people here are crazy for official papers - so they are Germans, period, and have at least as much right to stay as ridiculous aryanists.

Secondly, the Germans invited them or their ancestors, because they needed *help*, after getting a good part of their male population killed in a war they had caused.

"Germans all have nordic blood, and need to preserve their race,"

And here comes the Aryan-race talk. Why not also sterilize the handicapped?

By the way, is Bavaria Nordic? Or just not part of Germany?

This is one of the first examples of undisguised neo-nazi opinion in The Local's forums... I won't bother tackling it, but it's good to remember that the concept of a human "pure race" doesn't make sense at all biologically.
19:30 October 21, 2010 by michael4096

"Germany is for the Germans, who have lived there for thousands of years.."

Germany is less than 180 years old, you twit

@Logic Guy - careful! Neither many germans nor merkel are saying anything approaching what stenzel is saying
17:10 October 22, 2010 by Englishted
What happens if a Muslim leaves and becomes a Christian in Turkey ?.

Death ?.

Oh yes let them in to the E.U. simple !

Just give the people of any country in Europe a vote to allow Turkey in .

We all know what would happen so no vote .
02:04 October 23, 2010 by surj
#6 " that we are sick to the back teeth of Islam" So you and all of us non muslims should be. Islam is an evil cult, which wants to dominate the world. just read www.thereligionofpeace.com www.islam-watch.org It is about time Europe is free of muslims. Muslims can't integrate even if they live thousands of years among us. They rather have you change to their religion ,then them changing to your religion. Germans and others in EU are waking up, about time
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