Page last updated at 13:21 GMT, Monday, 23 November 2009

Germany to draw up 'values contract' for new immigrants

Maria Boehmer, 2009 file pic
Dr Boehmer said newcomers should agree to uphold German values

Germany is drawing up a new contract to bind new immigrants to the country's values, officials say.

Newcomers should learn German and uphold values such as freedom of speech and sexual equality, said Commissioner for Immigration Maria Boehmer.

In return, immigrants could expect "help and support", Dr Boehmer said.

"Anyone who wants to live here for a long time and who wants to work has to say 'Yes' to our country," she told the Stuttgarter Nachrichten newspaper.

"We will draw up contracts with new immigrants," said Dr Boehmer.

"In those contracts will be set out what they can expect in terms of support and help. But they will also set out what we can expect from immigrants.

"Everyone who wants to live and work here long term must say 'Yes' to our country. And for that we need a commonly accepted set of values.

"These include a good knowledge of the German language, but also a readiness to take part in society."

'Demographic problems'

Dr Boehmer said the number of highly qualified immigrants coming to Germany was too small.

It's not a bad idea for immigrants to gain knowledge of the German language, but German people also have to accept that their country has turned into a multi-racial society
BBC reader Sulaiman Sebunya, Dillingen, Germany

The country must become more attractive to give it "the expertise that will enable us to ensure our leading economic role in world markets", she said.

"Our demographic problems won't be solved through immigration... But, we must also make sure we harness the potential of immigrants already living here.

"For that, we need good language teaching, schooling and a better recognition of qualifications gained abroad," added Dr Boehmer.

Germany, which has around 15 million immigrants out of a population of around 82 million, last year introduced a test for would-be citizens on key facts about the country.

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