Mr Schröder, German chancellor from 1998 until 2005, argued that attempts to build barriers in Europe to keep out migrants is pointless and that only legalisation can keep the soaring influx of newcomers under control.
He also called for a “modern immigration policy” for Germany.
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“We will not be able to seal off Europe. Neither the Mediterranean nor new walls, like those being built in Hungary for instance, hold back people in desperation,” he wrote in a comment piece for German newspaper Welt am Sonntag.
“If we try to close the door to the asylum procedure, we must therefore open a legal door to immigration. It is only through legalisation on immigration that we have a chance to be able to keep it under control.
“We must not try to prevent this migration in and to Europe by using new iron curtains. Instead we must manage it, integrate and create prospects in the countries of origin.”
Earlier this month the German government revised upwards the number of asylum applications it expects to receive by the end of 2015 to 800,000 – a huge rise on the 202,000 requests it received in 2014.
But Germany will increasingly depend on migrants to help it finance the country’s pension system in the future due to a plummeting birth rate that will see it facing a shortfall of six million working-age people by 2030, rising to 12 million by 2050, wrote Mr Schröder.
“If we also want to be a socially and economically strong country in the future, then we need immigration,” he said.
With 40 per cent of asylum applications to Germany in the first half of 2015 coming from countries in the west Balkans including Serbia and Albania – states which Mr Schröder describes as democratic but with limited job prospects for young people – he proposed setting up vocational training centres in those lands.
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These would help prepare young people for job markets not only in their home countries but also for working in Germany. They would be equipped with the necessary knowledge of the language and culture, he wrote.
But growing immigration has seen tensions rising across Germany, resulting in a series of attacks on asylum seeker accommodation and Right-wing extremist protests in towns across the country.
Jürgen Opitz, the mayor of Heidenau in Saxony where a clash between anti-refugee protesters and police on the evening of August 21 saw 31 officers injured, revealed on Sunday to German newspaper the Sonntag Express that he received a menacing letter from right-wing extremists on Thursday containing a “concrete threat of violence” because of his support for refugees.
Undeterred, Mr Opitz said: “I will continue to speak out against racism and will continue to work to ensure that the people of Heidenau show solidarity with the asylum seekers and behave properly. I’m not afraid.”