Chancellor Angela Merkel said during a meeting on Saturday that Germany’s effort to form a multicultural society had “utterly failed,” and added heat to a discussion over immigration and Islam separating her conservative camp.
Merkel spoke to young members of her Christian Democrats (CDU) at a meeting is Potsdam, south of Berlin, saying that the people of the various cultures living together without integrating had not properly functioned as hoped for in a country that comprises of nearly four million Muslims.
Merkel flatly told the meeting that the multicultural approach had failed outrightly.
Merkel’s statement appeared to be meant to appease her critics. She has been under pressure from the CDU to take a harder stance on immigrants who do not show an inclination to adapt to the German society.
Repeating her famous words, she said immigrants needed to learn German so as to get by in school and have prospects on the labor market.
The recent debate on immigrants was a reminder of a trigger caused by former central banker Thilo Sarrazin who published a book accusing Muslim immigrants of lowering the intelligence of the German society.
Although Sarrazin’s views were dismissed by Bundes bank, his book gained popularity and most Germans approved with his arguments surveys showed.
Merkel has been playing safe by appeasing both sides – staying affirmative on integration and yet also telling Germans that they must accept that mosques are a part of their country.
On Saturday, Merkel said that the education of unemployed Germans should take precedence over employing workers from abroad, while noting at the same time that Germany could not do without skilled workers from abroad as well.
During a weekend newspaper interview, Merkel’s Labor Minister Ursula von der Leyen (CDU) suggested a prospect of dropping barriers to entry for some foreign workers so as to fight the lack of skilled workers in Europe’s largest economy.
Currently, Germany is short off 400,000 skilled workers, according to the German Chamber of Industry and Commerce (DIHK).
But chairman of CDU’s sister party Christian Social Union (CSU) Horst Seehofer has precluded any relaxation of immigration laws. Seehofer said last week that there was no more space in Germany for people from the “alien cultures.”