German president hosts Turkish-German neighbours after Oezil affair 

Mesut Oezil

German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier welcomed a group of his neighbours, mostly with Turkish heritage, at the presidential palace on Wednesday after a summer of heated national debate about racism.

“A permanent suspicion of immigrants, no matter how long they have been in Germany, isn’t just hurtful for individuals. It is shameful for our country,” Steinmeier told the 13 guests at a coffee reception in the grounds of Schloss Bellevue in Berlin.

No one should have to deny their roots, Steinmeier said. “Because homeland, felt and lived, also exists as a plural.”

Steinmeier’s words came soon after the resignation of Mesut Oezil from the German national football team. Oezil claims he experienced racism and discrimination due to his Turkish heritage after posing for a picture with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

His decision divided the country and ignited fierce discussions.

The president steered clear of all mention of the Oezil affair on Wednesday. Nevertheless, the fact that the German-Turkish coffee reception was his first appointment after the summer break can be interpreted as a decisive signal.

The past summer has seen much discussion about belonging and exclusion, integration and isolation in Germany, Steinmeier said. This discussion was necessary, according to the president.

He also referred to Germany’s ill-fated football World Cup victory bid. “We are one country – when it’s going well and when it’s going bad.”

Source: dpa

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