Merkel out to 'poison' race relations

German Chancellor Angela Merkel's coalition government has endorsed legislation that will abet racism at home and encourage nationalist isolation abroad, according to parliamentarian Claudia Roth.

Merkel out to 'poison' race relations

German Chancellor Angela Merkel's coalition government hasendorsed legislation that will abet racism at home and encourage nationalistisolation abroad, according to opposition parliamentarian Claudia Roth -- apast critic not just of her own government, but also that of Turkey.

Claudia Roth, a Green Party deputy, was referring to a draftlaw that received Cabinet approval last week, which would require the spousesof residents to pass a language test before being allowed to settle in Germany."It's not up to the government to tell me what language I should bespeaking if my husband were from Ýstanbul or Diyarbakýr," she told Today's Zaman.

The bill allows exemptions for several countries, including Australia, South Korea and Honduras."It is clearly discriminatory. If my husband were a Japanese banker, thatwould be all right," Roth said. The 400-page piece of legislation is aresponse to 11 EU directives to make immigration policy fairer, and is theresult of two years fierce debate about the place and rights of the estimated15 million people living in Germanywho are of foreign descent. It allows an amnesty for long term illegalresidents, and makes it easier for those investing in their own businesses toreside.

The law will give immigrants "more legal clarity and a better chance toenter the labor market," German Interior Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble toldreporters in Berlinlast week. However, immigrant organizations and opposition parties haveattacked other riders to the proposed law, which also tries to prevent forcedmarriages by raising the age of spouses allowed to enter Germany. Italso requires some newcomers to submit a digital photograph and fingerprints.

Roth accused the coalition, led by Chancellor Merkel, of sending a crudemessage to its own immigrant and more particularly ethnic Turkish population."The new law says 'you are the problem, stay here but you are notequal'." She said it was the latest in a series of government actionsdesigned to keep Ankaraat arm's length.

Turkey was notable by itsabsence at the party in Berlinthe weekend before last to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the founding ofwhat is now the EU. To add insult to injury, the Chancellor is alleged to havemade a farewell gift to French president Jacques Chirac -- attending his lastever summit -- with an antique beer stein depicting Napoleon's defeat of theOttoman army.The German ambassador in Ankara, responding to Turkish pique, saidthe mug was decorated with Napoleon's floral motif, and was meant to symbolizethe French/European empire realized by Napoleon in 1799.

The new immigration bill still needs parliamentary approval, but thegovernment of Christian Democrats and the Social Democrats has a big majorityand the bill is expected to pass largely unopposed. According to Roth, theresult would be that immigrants and their descendants in Germany wouldbecome more vulnerable to the "poison" of ultra-nationalism. She accused thecoalition government of pandering to anti-immigrant sentiment and trying toabandon Germany'scommitment to multiculturalism.

Roth is a controversial figure in Turkeyboth for her outspoken defense of Kurdish cultural rights and her opposition in1995 to the customs union between Turkey and the EU. More recently,both herself and the German Green's have become staunch defenders of fullTurkish membership in the EU, to prove that Europe is capable of embracing ademocratic, Islamic country. "We have to avoid a clash of civilizations," shesaid.

It had been the Christian Democrats themselves who had declared Turkey'sEuropean vocation, in encouraging it to sign the 1963 Ankara Agreement whichlaid the tracks for today's membership talks, Ms Roth said. To relate howattitudes have changed, she related how her father, a dentist, one dayannounced to the family that the time had come for him to learn a new languagebecause he was suddenly finding Turkish patients in the chair. "The first wordhe learned was aç [open wide]!"

Güncelleme Tarihi: 20 Eylül 2018, 18:16
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