Aygul Ozkan, one of four ministers added to Lower Saxony Minister-President Christian Wulff’s Cabinet on Monday, will serve as the minister for social affairs, according to the daily Frankfurter Allgemeine.
Born in the northern German city of Hamburg to Turkish immigrant parents, Ozkan climbed quickly through the hierarchy of the Christian Democratic Party (CDU). After joining in 2004, she became a deputy for the Hamburg local government in 2008 and was soon promoted to the regional government. Until her recent appointment, she had been the speaker for economic policy and an expert on industrial policies for the CDU.
“I am aware that I will be a role model,” Ozkan told the German Spiegel Online about her new position.
Wulff confirmed this, saying, “She will be a positive signal for youth with a migration background.”
The CDU has traditionally not been very popular among the Turkish community in Germany due to the party’s conservative integration and migration policies. Spiegel says the appointment of Ozkan was a coup for Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives.
The 38-year-old lawyer, a practicing Shiite Muslim according to the German media, said she chose the CDU because she shares the party’s ideas about family and Christian love for one’s neighbor. Ozkan’s parents migrated to Germany from Turkey in the 1960s.
Though she says her mindset is more German than Turkish, Ozkan maintains strong bonds with Turkey; she is married to a Turkish physician and they are raising their son bilingually, speaking both German and Turkish, local media said.
Wulff’s new ministers were expected to be sworn into office Tuesday pending approval by the regional government. Ozkan said her first objective in office would be to improve early childhood education for the children of immigrants.