Chancellor Angela Merkel and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan pledged Saturday to do more to improve the often poor integration record of Germany's 2.5-million-strong Turkish minority.
Germany plans to use celebrations in October 2011 for the 50th anniversary of a key immigration agreement on "Gastarbeiter" ("guest workers") between Germany and Turkey to "take stock," Merkel said after talks with Erdoğan.
Merkel to offer German help over Cyprus impasse Chancellor Angela Merkel said Saturday she would visit Cyprus in January to offer Germany's help in resolving an impasse holding up security cooperation and Turkey joining the European Union.
"This will be an opportunity for me to see if Germany can play a helpful role in resolving the difficulties that there are," Merkel said after talks with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in Berlin.
Erdoğan said progress toward Turkey joining the EU "should not slow down," and he had asked Merkel for Germany's support. Merkel reiterated her position that the process had an "open end."
The Cyprus situation is "important for us all, primarily in issues of security cooperation between NATO and the EU. Both sides have an interest in this, but of course there has to be movement on both sides," Merkel said.
The eastern Mediterranean island has been divided into a Turkish north and Greek south since 1974 when Turkey intervened in response to a Greek Cypriot coup.
Germany, together with fellow EU heavyweight France, is cool on the idea of the mainly Muslim country of some 73 million people joining the bloc, preferring instead a "privileged partnership."
BERLIN — Agence France-Presse The integration of immigrants, particularly Muslims, has been a hot issue since August when a central banker said that Germany was being made "more stupid" by poorly educated and unproductive Muslims.
"We propose that everywhere in cities and towns where there are people of Turkish origin, we use this event as a way of taking stock and seeing where we are and what has to be done," Merkel told reporters.
"There are clear problems still that we want to solve when it comes to integration. On the Turkish side there is a large desire to help as much as it can and to stand by our side in a constructive manner."
Erdoğan he would attend events marking the anniversary of the 1961 agreement, which saw West Germany allow in large numbers of Turkish immigrants to provide workers for its postwar "economic miracle."
"I am of course in favor of people of Turkish origin here in Germany integrating, for their own happiness, and for the happiness and future of German society," Erdoğan said.
"And if they have been in Germany for 50 years, then this is obviously required, so that people can live together peacefully."
Merkel's government acknowledges that it has considerable work to do, with statistics showing that immigrants do worse at school and in the labor market, exacerbating feelings of social exclusion among young Muslims, experts say.