When it comes to managing Germany’s refugee surge, Chancellor Angela Merkel has pledged to learn from past immigration waves.
She would do well to talk to 23-year-old Elvedin Goljica. The Kosovo-born student might seem a poster boy for integration. After arriving as an infant with his parents from war-torn Yugoslavia in 1992, he did well at school, attends a top university and has a prestigious foreign ministry internship.
But Mr Goljica argues that he suffers from the gap that still divides ethnic Germans from immigrants and their German-born children. For him it is mostly to do with xenophobic jokes, pointed questions about his name, and occasional encounters with rude officials.
“If I say my name, people assume I am a foreigner. People ask me about Kosovo as if it were my home, but I have never lived there since I was a baby,” he says.
He is so concerned that he has joined an online campaign called “I too am Germany” in which immigrant-origin young people have posted pictures to emphasise Germany’s multicultural reality. Others on the site talk about everything from racist insults to ticket inspectors picking on dark-skinned passengers.
为此他加入了网上一个名为“我也是德国人”(I too am Germany)的活动。在该活动中，移民出身的年轻人贴出了许多展现德国多元文化的照片。还有些网民讨论从种族攻击到检票员专门挑深肤色的乘客等种种现象。
Faced with the burden of taking in an estimated 1m migrants this year, the German government might be forgiven for paying less attention to the complaints of people already established. But Ms Merkel says those granted asylum must feel at home. She told the Bundestag this month: “We must learn from the experiences [of the past] . . . and, from the outset, put the highest priority on integration.”
Mr Goljica’s story is relevant because he was part of the last big wave of asylum-seekers to shelter in Germany — 350,000 refugees from the Yugoslav wars of the early 1990s. Confronted with the arrival of other eastern European migrants and the turmoil of German reunification, the government took a hard line over the Balkan refugees under rightwing political pressure.
Most had to return to Bosnia after the 1995 Dayton peace accord, with only about 40,000 remaining after 2000, says UNHCR, the UN refugee agency. Those who stayed struggled to be granted permanent residence, including the Goljica family. “For 10 years my father fought with officials,” said Mr Goljica.
联合国难民署(UNHCR)表示，1995年《代顿和平协定》(Dayton Peace Accords)签署后，多数人不得不返回了波斯尼亚，仅有4万人在2000年后仍然留在德国。那些留下来的难民很难获得永久居民身份，其中就包括Goljica一家。“我爸爸和官员争了10年，”Goljica称。
Bernd Mesovic, of Pro Asyl, a lobby group, says: “It was idiotic to push people out. Many of the best-qualified went to the US.”
游说团体“支持避难组织”(Pro Asyl)的贝恩德蔠索维奇(Bernd Mesovic)称：“把人们赶出去的做法是愚蠢的。很多最有资格的人都去了美国。”
The ex-Balkan refugees are among Germany’s best-integrated immigrants, with many benefiting from ties with relatives who had arrived in earlier decades, and community organisations. Former refugees include prizewinning writer Sasa Stanisic and football international Neven Subotic. Edmin Atlagic, president of IGBD, a leading Bosnian community group, says: “We have adapted well to Germany because we came from a secular pluralist society.”
前巴尔干半岛难民是德国最融入当地社会的移民群体之一，其中很多人都受益于比他们早几十年到达德国的亲戚以及社区机构的帮助。前难民中包括获奖作家萨沙斯塔尼希奇(Sasa Stanisic)以及国际足球明星内文苏博蒂奇(Neven Subotic)。主要的波斯尼亚社区团体IGBD的主席埃德明阿特拉吉奇(Edmin Atlagic)称：“我们已经很好地适应了德国，因为我们来自一个世俗的多元化的社会。”
Today’s Middle Eastern refugees are escaping civil war, like their Balkan predecessors, but they are arriving in a country that is much more welcoming than 25 years ago. The German economy, burdened in the 1990s by reunification costs, is powering ahead and companies are crying out for skilled workers. As Ms Merkel says, the country has money for supporting refugees.
Also, successive governments have rejected past anti-immigration policies, when immigrants were seen as temporary visitors, and have backed integration. Since 2000 Berlin has passed laws to fight discrimination, support immigrants (via language lessons), ease rules for migrants’ German-born children to claim citizenship, and relax restrictions on asylum-seekers working.
Germany today has Europe’s largest immigrant population; over 10m out of a total of 81m. Immigrants’ earnings lag behind the native population’s by about 20 per cent, only a little more than in the UK and France. Further, an easy-access social security system means that Germany has only 28 per cent of foreign-born people in poverty, fewer than in Britain and France, according to the EU.
But immigrant-origin Germans still lag behind natives in living standards, housing quality and education. According to the OECD’s Pisa education tests, immigrant-origin youngsters scored an average of 54 points below their non-immigrant classmates in mathematics in a 2012 study — a smaller gap than the 81-point difference of a decade earlier but bigger than the 34 OECD average.
Refugee activists call for further action, including more provision of German lessons and affordable housing. But the ex-Balkan immigrants are disappointed that Syrian asylum-seekers are receiving residence rights of only three years. Conservative Germans say even this is too generous since refugees should be ready to leave when their home countries stabilise. But Mr Atlagic says: “People need to have the perspective of permanent residence from the outset. Only then will they will fully commit to integration in Germany.”