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Davutoglu praises integration

Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu has visited a school in Vienna.

Davutoglu and Austrian People’s Party (ÖVP) Foreign Minister Michael Spindelegger spoke with pupils and teachers of a secondary modern school in Vienna-Favoriten yesterday (Thurs). The families of around 25 per cent of the school’s students come from Turkey.

The political scientist – who became Turkey’s minister of foreign affairs in 2009 – said the mostly cooperative coexistence of students at the school was proof of Austria’s "functioning integration policy". He underlined that participating in the social life of the country where immigrants were living was an important aspect to ensure a peaceful living together between natives and foreigners.

Davutoglu also said that learning the dominating language of a country was "essential". Turkish President Abdullah Gül announced during his most recent visit to Austria in May 2005 that Austria-based Turks should try to have fluent German and Turkish "to be more successful for themselves, their families and Austria". There are 113,000 Turks in Austria. Another 70,000 residents of the alpine country have a Turkish migratory background.

The Centre for Future Studies at the Fachhochschule College in Salzburg recently interviewed 1,000 Austrians to find that 53 per cent of them consider the chance that existing difficulties in the coexistence of themselves and immigrants might deteriorate as "very high". Forty-five per cent said the same regarding Austria’s Christian community and the half a million Austria-based Muslims while only 31 per cent said such developments were likely to happen as far as the country’s rich and poor were regarded.

ÖVP Vienna deputy chief Sebastian Kurz accompanied Davutoglu and Spindelegger yesterday. Kurz was sworn in as federal secretary for integration last year. He is the first politician to serve in this function in the country. Asked to reveal his main aims as integration secretary, Kurz – who caused controversy by suggesting that imams should be ordered to speak only German at mosques in Austria – said: "I want to achieve that more migrants are proud of Austria."

Kurz recently said a labour market task force should be set up to examine the problems of job-seeking foreigners. Statistics show that almost 10 per cent of immigrants have no job. The overall unemployment rate ranges around four per cent. Social Democratic (SPÖ) Labour Minister Rudolf Hundstorfer rejected his idea. The minister said his department and the Labour Market Service (AMS) were already closely cooperating with representatives of the economy to reduce the number of unemployed residents of Austria with a migratory background.

Turks are the third-largest community of foreigners in Austria. Germans top the ranking, with people from former Yugoslavia in second. Ayse Sezgin became Turkey’s ambassador in Vienna last November. The former Turkish ambassador in Ljubljana, Slovenia, succeeded Kadri Ecvet Tezcan who caused outcry in 2010 by claiming that Austrians were only interested in other cultures when on holiday. Speaking to Die Presse, Tezcan also said Austria should "chase off" foreigners if the country did not want them to live here.

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