Germany is a popular destination for migrants, but immigration is becoming increasingly controversial.
A law designed to tighten up asylum rules and encourage integration was passed recently. It provides for German lessons for immigrants already in Germany and aims to give preference to professional workers in future.
Interior Minister Otto Schily declared: “With this law, Germany shows itself to be an open country.”
That doesn’t please everyone. Edmund Stoiber, the challenger to Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, said that the law had been “forced through” and that the “important issue of immigration will have to play a role” in Germany’s elections, due in September.
Mr Stoiber has opposed the entry of Turkey into EU, claiming that Berlin is already the “largest Turkish city” after Ankara and Istanbul.
However former Chancellor Helmut Schmidt said recently that too many foreigners had been admitted as a result of “idealistic thinking”.