Reem Alabali-Radovan: Workplace Chancellery |


As of: 12/29/2021 9:17 a.m.

31 years old, new to the Bundestag – and with his own office in the Chancellery: Reem Alabali-Radovan has had a lightning career. The SPD politician doesn’t forget where she comes from either. Who is the new integration officer?

By Nina Amin, ARD capital studio

Reem Alabali-Radovan has only just moved into her office in the Berlin Chancellery. The shelves are still empty, the walls bare. But the prospect is good: the 31-year-old is looking directly at the Bundestag. There, too, she did not move in as an SPD MP until after the election in September. A few months later, Federal Chancellor Olaf Scholz appointed her Minister of State for Migration, Integration and Refugees. It’s a lightning bolt career.

Nina Amin |
ARD capital studio

But Alabali-Radovan doesn’t forget where she comes from. “My home is Schwerin, in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania.” She got there when she was six. She was born in Moscow, where her Iraqi parents studied. A return to Iraq was out of the question for the family due to the political situation. They chose Germany and became recognized refugees.

“Not the greatest experiences”

Alabali-Radovan remembers the first time in the initial reception facility in Nostorf-Horst well, even if she was only six years old. “These have not been the best experiences,” said the new integration officer. However, she learned German quickly. “That was because I had already learned Russian and was receptive to languages.” Her parents also helped a lot. The SPD politician knows that not all children from refugee families have such good starting opportunities, and that applies to adults as well. “I think the state has to create the ideal conditions for integration.” Sustainable structures are needed so that people can integrate. Just like integration and language courses from the start.

For Alabali-Radovan, integration is not a one-way street. Everyone must make an effort. And respect each other, like in sport, says the amateur boxer who is married to a professional boxer. That’s why she loves boxing. “You meet at eye level and make no distinction between origins or social status.”

In the Scholz cabinet: Reem Alabali-Radovan is the new Minister of State for Integration.

Image: dpa

Not a “model migrant”

She punched her way up to the top. Alabali-Radovan went to Berlin to study politics, where she worked for a few years at the German Orient Institute. When many refugees came to Germany in 2015, she went back to her old homeland and worked in the initial reception facility where she arrived with her parents almost 20 years earlier. At the beginning of 2020 she will be appointed Integration Commissioner for Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania. Then the jump to Berlin.

Alabali-Radovan does not see herself as a “model migrant” in the Chancellery. “I didn’t get this position just because of my immigration history.” It is important that she can contribute her experience as an integration officer in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania and her work with refugees, says the SPD politician.

A lot to do

The new integration officer will have little time to set up properly in her new office. There is much to do. The traffic light government promises to make life better for people with an immigrant background, to let them participate more. For example, by getting a German passport faster without having to give up their previous citizenship.

Alabali-Radovan has one goal: “Germany is already diverse and a country of immigration. In five years I hope that this is really visible, in the media, in politics, but also in public administration.” Then Germany is a long way ahead.

The new integration officer: who is Reem Alabali-Radovan?

Nina Amin, ARD Berlin, 20.12.2021 · 12:51 pm

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