“Turks enrich our country” – Latest news

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Armin Laschet, candidate for Prime Minister of the conservative Christian Democratic Parties / Christian Social Union (CDU / CSU) and Chancellor of the State of North Rhine-Westphalia in Germany, stressed that people from Turkish origin living in Germany for years are a part of this society, and said: “The Turks enrich our country. Laschet answered Hürriyet’s questions to the Berlin Representation of the State of North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW) where he was Prime Minister.


– You were born and raised in a city with many guest worker families. What memories do you keep from this period?

– In October we will celebrate the 60th anniversary of the labor agreement between Turkey and Germany. After World War II, many people came to see us to help achieve the economic miracle. In my hometown of Aachen and the region, immigrants worked in mines, elsewhere in the steel and automotive industry, for example at Ford in Cologne, and integrated into society in North Rhine-Westphalia. -Westphalia (NRW). When I went to school, there were a few children with a history of Turkish life. Almost 40 percent of students today have an immigrant background. It shows how much our society has changed.


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– What comes to your mind when you hear the word Turkey or Turkish?

First of all, I think about the fact that those who come from Turkey are the largest group of immigrants in Germany. Turkey is also of great importance to NRW Province due to the large number of Turkish citizens and citizens of Turkish descent living there, and the diversity of civil society, economic and cultural ties that result. . They enrich our country. Turkey is our NATO partner and we have many common projects. Critical questions can also be asked among friends. The shortcomings of the rule of law and human rights in Turkey remain a matter of great concern. I always express this in my meetings with representatives of the Turkish government. As regards migration, the agreement with Turkey allowed an orderly progress: Turkey made a major contribution to the fight against the humanitarian catastrophe in Syria by accepting nearly four million Syrian refugees. It is important for the EU to help in this regard and this gives us the opportunity to fight together against illegal immigration.

– Today, 60 years later, there are not only workers but also many employers among Turkish immigrants. What does this mean for Germany?

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It’s a very good development. There are now many people with a Turkish immigrant background who run medium-sized businesses and are large employers. Consider Uğur Şahin and Özlem Türeci, the founders of BioNTech. Şahin’s father came to Ford as a guest worker when his child was four years old. After going to high school, ahin, as the first person of Turkish descent, takes the high school leaving exam (Abitur) as the best of his year, then goes to college. And now he’s developing a corona vaccine for the whole world. There are many lesser-known examples beyond vaccine inventors and football players, with exactly those kinds of successes behind them.

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– Many states do not want to work with the DITIB (Turkish-Islamic Union of Religious Affairs). Why is this so?

When the first immigrants arrived in Germany in 1961, the German state was happy that the DITIB (subordinate to Turkish Religious Affairs) was involved in religious services. At that time, Turkey was a very strong Kemalist state. Much has changed there. It is therefore necessary to ensure that the DITIB fulfills its functions within the framework of religious service in accordance with the constitution. At KRV, we are in dialogue with the DITIB. We expect religion to be separated from Turkish state politics. We also want imams to speak German as well as possible in the long term and study in Germany.

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– They say you are also called ‘Turk-Armin’. Where does this word come from and what does it mean?

This sentence was once considered an insult, an insult by those who found my integration policy and my appreciation of people of Turkish origin too committed. Indeed, I have very good relations with a large number of immigrants, including those of Turkish origin. For example, when I visit Turkish associations and mosque congregations, I find that they still remember the work I started as Minister of Integration over 15 years ago.

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– Why don’t the CDU and CSU want Turkey’s full membership of the EU?

As an institution, the EU is unable to accept such a large country with a population of 80 million. In addition, we are still very concerned about Turkey’s shortcomings in the areas of rule of law and human rights. We must find ways for Turkey to enter the European internal market without becoming a full member. The 27 EU countries must reform before others join them. But we need a close and specific partnership that goes beyond our joint work with Turkey in NATO. A lot of people in Turkey also think about this.

– What do you expect from Turkey?

I expect Turkey to return to the principles it once recognized at the Council of Europe. Especially with regard to freedom of the press. Tayyip Erdoğan did a lot for democracy and minority rights in Turkey at the start of his term as Prime Minister. Unfortunately, there have been many setbacks in these areas in recent years. We are awaiting the resumption of the first reforms.

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