German official accuses Turkey of interference

December 30, 2009, Wednesday/ 17:46:00/ TODAY'S ZAMAN
An official in the German city-state of Berlin accused Turkey on Tuesday of interfering in German affairs, hampering the integration of the country’s sizable Turkish immigrant community.

“In some areas of integration we have problems because the Turkish state regards itself as politically responsible for Turks in Germany and interferes,” Ehrhart Koerting, the interior minister of Berlin, said, according to German news agency Deutsche Presse-Agentur. His remarks came in an interview published in Berliner Morgenpost newspaper. According to Koerting, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s visit to Germany following a February 2008 fire in the southern German city of Ludwigshafen, which killed nine Turkish residents, was an example of Turkish intervention. In a speech in Cologne during his visit, Erdoğan encouraged Turks to integrate into German society but said they should resist assimilation, angering the German government.

“The Turkish state regards its immigrants as still being citizens of the country. That is not right,” Koerting said. He stated that many immigrants from Turkey had integrated into German society, with 80,000 in Berlin alone giving up their Turkish citizenship to be naturalized as Germans.

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