One of the most powerful businessmen in Germany has told The National that the country made mistakes in its policy towards migrants from the Middle East over the past year, and that some might have to be asked to leave the country when peace returns to the region.
Joe Kaeser, the chief executive of the engineering giant Siemens, said that the country’s immigration laws needed to be re-examined in the wake of the arrival of an estimated one millions migrants, with more expected as the security situation deteriorates in Syria.
“Germany has got to deal with its global responsibilities in a mature way. There has been insufficient thought to immigration law, and we need to differentiate between different kinds of migrants. There are valid refugees whose lives are at risk at home. For now, they have to be protected, but perhaps there will come a time when they need to go back home.”
He distinguished these migrants from others whose lives were not at risk in their home countries but who were coming to Germany to make a better life for themselves and their families. “To these economic refugees, maybe we should tell them: we’ll call you when we need you,” he said.
Mr Kaeser, speaking on the sidelines of the World Government Summit in Dubai, also warned migrants that they should assimilate into German cultural life, following incidents of crime and sexual harassment in the country. “We should also make clear that we expect them to live within the rules of Germany while they are there,” he said.
Coming from one of the country’s most important businessmen and the head of one of its biggest job providers, Mr Kaeser’s comments will fuel the debate within the country about the fallout from the migrant crisis, which has put political pressure on Angela Merkel, the chancellor.
But he insisted that he remains one of her staunchest supporters. “It would be a disaster if she left. She is the voice of stability and development in Germany.
Mr Kaeser downplayed reports that Siemens was to cut or redeploy 1,000 jobs in its oil and mining equipment manufacturing business. “We hired 33,000 jobs worldwide last year and it will be about the same this year. Siemens is a job machine,” he said.
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