Turkish leader in Germany slams country’s plans to penalize refugees if not ‘successfully integrated’

Published March 30th, 2016 - 03:00 GMT
Refugee children and their parents from Afghanistan look at books and games in the refugee camp "Bayernkaserne" in Munich, southern Germany, on March 21, 2016. (AFP/Christof Stache)
Refugee children and their parents from Afghanistan look at books and games in the refugee camp "Bayernkaserne" in Munich, southern Germany, on March 21, 2016. (AFP/Christof Stache)

A controversial plan by the German government to sanction refugees who fail to learn German and integrate into society is "highly problematic," the head of the country's Turkish community said on Wednesday.

"Germany has to understand once and for all that integration can only work if it is based on motivation," Gokay Sofuaglu told the daily Berliner Zeitung. "One has to offer integration courses and show people that they belong."

Sofuaglu was referring to an initiative by Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere that would make successful integration a prerequisite for the permanent right of residence, as well as reducing the amount of benefits for refugees unwilling to integrate.

Chancellor Angela Merkel's decision to allow 1.1 million migrants to register asylum bids in Germany in 2015 caused voters to punish her Christian Democrats (CDU) at regional elections earlier this month.

The move by her interior minister is considered by some as a concession to conservative voters.

Germany's commissioner for integration, Aydan Ozoguz, also cast doubt on de Maiziere's plan, saying that the option to sanction refugees financially if they fail to learn German and integrate into society already exists under the current legal framework.

New integration laws should focus on facilitating the integration of refugees into the German labour market, Ozoguz told public broadcaster ZDF.


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