BERLIN (AP) — The far-right Alternative for Germany says it accepts that people can be German citizens “regardless of their ethno-cultural background,” an about-face for a party whose leading figures have in the past questioned whether immigrants from outside Europe can be integrated.
A declaration posted on the party's website Monday and signed by dozens of its lawmakers states that AfD acknowledges “without reservation” that people who have only recently gained German citizenship have the same rights and duties as those whose families have lived in the country for centuries.
The declaration doesn't go so far as to say that migrants or their descendants belong to the German ‘Volk,’ a nationalist term the party has sought to rehabilitate and which refers to people who belong to a particular ethnicity.
It also states that preserving the language and traditions of the “German Volk” is a “completely legitimate political goal” and that it continues to believe in imposing strict conditions on citizenship as well as seeking to prevent mass immigration.
AfD has come under pressure over the past year to distance itself from extremist ideology, after Germany's domestic intelligence agency said it would put some of the party's branches under surveillance.
This followed concerns that the branches are pursuing aims incompatible with democratic principles set down in the country's constitution, such as equality and non-discrimination.