German streets not ′paved with gold,′ says Afghanistan′s Ashraf Ghani | News | DW | 06.09.2018

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German streets not 'paved with gold,' says Afghanistan's Ashraf Ghani

Afghans shouldn't harbor false hopes of a German life of wealth and luxury, President Ashraf Ghani has said. In a newspaper interview, he also called Germany a "beacon of hope."

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani told mass-circulation Bild newspaper that it was crucial to keep too many Afghans from leaving the country by exposing the "false belief that the streets in Germany are paved with gold. That's not the case."

In the in-depth interview, he also pointed out that many Afghan asylum-seekers, even if approved, have to work in jobs involving manual labor. He added that he did not want to diminish that kind of work, but stressed that "people who are part of the middle class and who could be participating in Afghanistan's varied corporate opportunities will end up doing more menial work in Germany."

Ashraf Ghani

Ghani warned his people of the type of work they would find in Germany

He said communication was key to making people aware that emigrating to Germany or other Western countries was no panacea.

Asked about the skepticism in Germany about whether the integration of asylum-seekers, including those from Afghanistan, can be successful, he urged Germans not to "condemn the whole nation because of one, two or three people," as "for every person who has committed an offense or a crime, there are hundreds who are very productive."

Recently, an Afghan refugee was sentenced for the murder of his ex-girlfriend in Germany. The killing sparked demonstrations against what some see as excessive migration and lack of integration.

In the first half of 2018, more than 6,100 Afghans applied for asylum in Germany, ranking the country in fourth place. Around 35 percent of Afghan requests for asylum are typically approved in Germany. Germany also has a controversial program of deporting Afghans who apply for but do not receive asylum.

No 'fortress' Germany

"Germany cannot turn into a fortress," Ghani warned, adding that Germany managed to rebuild itself after World War II by "opening up." He said, for him, Germany was a "beacon of light, social integration, economic growth and social empathy."

Ghani said one of Afghanistan's main problems that he is determined to tackle is human trafficking. "We don't want to send our people, we want to send our goods," Ghani said, stressing that he is working to build a stronger partnership with German business federations.

Read more: Afghan not 'gay enough' for asylum in Austria

Pine nuts, for example, could be a staple product for export, especially to Germany, he said, but most of them are smuggled instead of sold legally.

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