Former German President Joachim Gauck stated in an interview with the German newspaper Bild that migrants in Germany should accept the country and its values. "I find it unacceptable for people who have been living in Germany for decades not to be able to speak German, skip parent-child evenings or even keep their kids away from lessons or sports," Gauck told the media.
Gauck stated that Germans “expect those who come to us to be ready to accept the land as it is and its values." He also stressed that there’s no place for “false consideration, because one fears to be branded xenophobic". He pointed out that "something like binding rules for living together” are needed and warned against creating several societies, existing side by side.
Gauck also rooted for the rediscovery of the term “Heimat,” German for "homeland," which has been avoided in public since the Nazi’s exploited it.
According to him, the term should be freed from any associations with its former usage. "Germany definitely needed a recovery time from the abused terms. It’s gone well and far from the misuse." Gauck also pointed out that debates over Germany’s refugee policy have fueled discussions around rehabilitating the term “Heimat.”
"The fact that we are now particularly concerned with the term 'homeland' is in fact related to the refugee crisis." According to the heavyweight of German politics, migration makes some people feel as if they are no longer at home even in Germany. At the same time, he warned against "vulgarizing" the debatable term.
The debates around traditional values, rooted in Judeo-Christian culture, have heated up in Germany over the past year, as the country struggles to deal with the consequences of the 2015 refugee crisis. Over a million people, predominantly from the Middle East and Northern Africa, headed to the European country following the announcement of an open-border policy by Angela Merkel’s cabinet.
Although the chancellor firmly stands for the decision, at the beginning of his term this March, Germany's Interior Minister Horst Seehofer publicly opposed the idea that Islam is a part of German culture, triggering a new round of debates.
“Islam does not belong to Germany. Germany has been shaped by Christianity," Seehofer, who is the leader of the Christian Social Union (CSU), allied with German Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democratic Union (CDU), said in an interview with the German newspaper Das Bild.
The "Islam doesn't belong to Germany" remark was repeatedly made by the AfD party before the general election last year. The right-wing party, which is now the third-largest bloc in the Bundestag and the country's largest opposition party, is known for its tough stance on migration.