Germany Learned It Must Be Country of Immigration, Merkel Says on 70th Constitution Anniversary
The adoption of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Germany 70 years ago was celebrated at an event underscoring its connection with diversity.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel marked on Tuesday the 70th anniversary since the adoption of Germany’s Basic Law (constitution) by celebrating “diversity, including through immigration”.
Merkel took part in an event in Berlin on Tuesday together with dozens of young people of immigrant background to honor the anniversary hosted by the German Integration Foundation (DSI).
In 2012, the foundation began a program called “Go Your Way”, which is designed to help youth of immigrant origin become successful in the German job market.
“Human dignity shall be inviolable,” said former German President Christian Wulff, now head of the DSI, citing Article 1 from Germany’s Basic Law. He added that was “perhaps the most beautiful line in the German language.”
The event was design to emphasize the connection between the German constitution and the lives of people of immigrant background in the country.
“We cannot take it for granted that a constitution should stand the test of time for seven decades as the foundation of lived freedom, democracy, and rule of law as our Basic Law did,” said Merkel, as cited by DW.
“Diversity, including through immigration, has been here in the heart of Europe for centuries. … We have learned how immigration has changed our country, and how it will continue to change our country, and we have learned that our country must be a country of immigration, as well as of integration,” she elaborated.
Merkel went on to quote those constitutional articles that dealt with equality, particularly Article 3:
“All persons shall be equal before the law. … Men and women shall have equal rights. The state shall promote the actual implementation of equal rights for women and men and take steps to eliminate disadvantages that now exist.”
She also mentioned Article 5 which stipulates guarantees for the freedom of speech and the press.
As part of the government-funded 70th anniversary Basic Law campaign, the DSI foundation has appointed “ambassadors” of immigrant background for individual articles of the German constitution.
Merkel’s comments about Germany being a country of immigration come against the backdrop of the relative rise of anti-immigration sentiments, including through the growing popularity of the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party.
According to some estimates, Germany has received more than 1.6 migrants from the wider Middle East since Merkel declared an open-door policy in 2015 because of the Syrian Civil War.
(Banner image: DSI on Twitter)