Page last updated at 12:40 GMT, Tuesday, 24 November 2009

German 'values contract' for immigrants: Your views

German Commissioner for Immigration Maria Boehmer
Commissioner for Immigration Maria Boehmer introduced the proposal

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

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

Here BBC News website readers in Germany react to the move.


Absolutely the right idea. I'm South African born and bred. I've lived here for two years and speak better German than half the Turks who have lived here for much of if not their entire lives. Many immigrants to Germany do not associate outside of their own communities, discriminate against others, take advantage of what is a remarkably generous social system and disrespect those whose hard earned taxes go to supporting them. It is high time these people are made to officially agree to some standards, or we will gladly (and politely) show them to the nearest port.
Brandon, Berlin, Germany

Well I suppose it's a bit different for me as a white Scot but I think it's overdue, especially the language requirement. Obscene murders called "honour" killings are not unknown here in Berlin and there is very little sign of assimilation among the Turkish community in my experience of 12 years. I can understand that in a way. The British in southern Spain are no different. People tend to cling to what and who they know and do not immigrate because they want a new culture.
Joseph Allan, Berlin, Germany

As a Turkish person studying and living in Germany, I have never come across any racism or prejudice by German people. I think they are really nice to everybody and this contract should be welcomed by everyone. But that does not mean that they neglect the minorities.
Orcun Erkaya, Giessen, Germany

I myself am an immigrant as an American who has lived here since 2002. I think this is a great idea. There are too many immigrants here who do not speak German and live totally isolated lives, not at all interested in German culture or society. Even worse, many immigrants come from cultures where women are second-class citizens and treated as such, and those people need to respect that if they want to live here, women are treated as equals in this culture. We fought long and hard for equal rights and it is really scary to see people from some cultures come here and suppress their wives, sisters and daughters. In 21st Century Western Europe that should simply not be tolerated.
Rachel Hildebrandt, Cologne, Germany

I think it is fair to request immigrants to demonstrate the ability to integrate in this society. I wonder, however, if the German government will give applicants help in this regard. For example, the German language is not easy to learn, and many immigrants might not have the possibility to pay for tuition.
Mauricio Soto, Stuttgart, Germany

Being a Brit who has lived in Germany for the past two decades I think it is a good idea for people who want to live here do something like this. Unfortunately the people who this is directed at will never never ever sign something like this and abide by it. They see Germany as a soft country (like the UK) where the streets are lined with gold and you can basically get away with anything. The rest, well they don't need anything like this because they come here with the right attitude in the first place.
Richard D, Krefeld, Germany

This is old news and has been in effect for over a year now. It is only right that one should learn the language of the country where one intends to live. Every immigrant gets either free or heavily-subsidised language tuition here. I know because I have been through it. It's not hard, all it takes is a little application and a willingness to learn. I recently returned to England after a 30 year absence. I asked in three shops for directions and was shocked to find that nobody spoke English. Sad.
Richard Johnson, Cologne, Germany

I see this as a very proactive move and something this country needs. I've been living here for several years now after growing up in Canada and have mastered the language and have adapted myself because I not only want to stay here, but fit in as well. I hope such a contract will inspire more Germans to treat successfully integrated immigrants more like fellow Germans and less like tourists or unwelcome foreigners, because that is still prevalent in German society today.
John, Berlin, Germany

I think it's not a bad idea for immigrants to gain knowledge of the German language. But German people also have to accept the fact that their country has turned into a multiracial society in the last three decades or so. As a Ugandan-born German citizen, I sometimes feel like I'm living in the 17th Century here. How do you expect immigrants be ready to take part in society when you're not willing to open the door for them? Is this the culture we are being forced to adopt?
Sulaiman Sebunya, Dillingen, Germany


In theory, it sounds good. But in practice, one can expect only the usual bureaucratic rituals which work to force new immigrants through a demoralising process. What is more urgently needed is a concept to integrate the groups of immigrants living in certain suburbs in the larger cities. One problem among many is that the ones who "make it", having found work, still have a low status below a glass ceiling in our society. I know some Turkish-Germans who have decided to emigrate to Ireland or the UK because they feel their opportunities are limited here. That leaves the lower achievers back here with no local role models except kebab shop owners and vegetable sellers.
Juergen Schwarz, Steglitz, Berlin, Germany

This contract stuff sounds like complete hogwash. It won't make a difference. Since 2000, children of foreigners get German citizenship. The children of the Turks in Germany are more conservative than their parents and oppose the aforementioned values.
Karl Schlonz, Braunschweig, Germany

As a Brit living in Germany since 1989 I think this idea of "contracts" a joke. What happens if the person breaks the contract? Will he or she be thrown out? Many won't come to Germany because of falling wages and very high taxes and social security. In the UK and other countries, IT workers earn more money. The Polish have stopped working here because of falling wages. Germany should invest more in education. Nine-year-old children are sorted into three different types of schools here. If you go to the "Hauptschule", your chances are very slim at work later. This is a massive problem.
James Marrs, Bielefeld, Germany

I think this is a very nationalistic point of view. We lecture Turkey to allow more Kurds to be used in government and education. But we forbid our own minorities of 15 million from using their language in education or government. I think it is hypocrisy. Diversity enriches our culture, not homogeneity.
Matt, Carlsbad, Germany

Ridiculous. A better idea would be to create more opportunities for immigrants in terms of occupations, education, and a general change of mentality. It's very much an "us against them" mentality in Germany, so how can you expect German society to be hospitable to foreigners? Certainly immigrants take advantage of the system, but let's not forget when many of these folks came to Germany they weren't shown the red carpet. That includes guest workers, asylum seekers, and me as an "Ami" (nickname for Americans). I find it bizarre, considering that all are welcome in the US so long as you don't cause problems. I've been living here for seven years and it was just a few years ago that German politicians finally stopped declaring that Germany was not an immigrant destination.
Ronald, Berlin, Germany

The way we do immigration in Europe, we're losing out big time. A "contract of values" doesn't solve any problems if we're not willing to fully tolerate and integrate people already here and accept immigration as a reality and something extremely valuable for our society.
Weigel Edeltraud, Frankfurt, Germany

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