German President To Speak Before Turkish Parliament

"(NYTIMES)
On the heels of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s comments about the failure of multiculturalism in Germany, and as the country grapples with the problem of integrating its four million Muslims, most of whom are of Turkish origin, President Christian Wulff of Germany traveled to Ankara on Monday.

His five-day trip to Turkey is the first official visit in 10 years by a German president, despite the close economic and social ties between the countries. Mr. Wulff, elected president in June, caused controversy here when he said this month that Islam was part of Germany. Leading conservatives, including Mrs. Merkel, seized upon his remarks.

Mrs. Merkel, who until this past weekend had stayed out of the debate over how to integrate the country’s seven million immigrants, told the annual meeting of young Christian Democrats on Saturday that multiculturalism in Germany had “utterly failed.”

“Those who want to take part in our society must not only obey our laws, but they must also master our language.” Mrs. Merkel said. Yet only three months ago, during the World Cup in South Africa, Mrs. Merkel praised the German soccer team for its multiethnicity, saying it showed how Germany had changed. One of its leading players, Mesut Ozil, was born and raised in Germany but is a practicing Muslim whose family comes from Turkey.

Critics said Mrs. Merkel was pandering to the more conservative wings of the party, which are seeking a populist message in order to reverse opinion polls that show Mrs. Merkel’s center-right coalition losing ground to the opposition.

This debate over integration was sharpened during the summer by a book by Thilo Sarrazin, a former member of the central bank and a prominent Social Democrat, who said foreigners, particularly Muslims, either sponged off the German welfare system or were unwilling to integrate. The result, he contended, was that Germany was “doing away with itself” — the theme of h