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GERMANY: Interview with Angela Merkel on the refugee crisis: much left unsaid on safe passage
05 September 2016
An interview between German tabloid Bild and the country's chancellor, Angela Merkel, has been translated into English. The interview focuses almost entirely on the arrival in Europe of hundreds of thousands of refugees, and Germany and the EU's response. Although it touches on many aspects of the situation, the interview leaves much unsaid.
GERMANY: ANGELA MERKEL: I want a border control system 'modeled on the US'
(Business Insider, link):
"Germany's leading newspaper, BILD, has published an exclusive interview with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
Publishing Director BILD, Kai Diekmann, as well as Editors-in-Chief Tanit Koch and Julian Reichelt met Europe's most influential political leader in her office in the German capital of Berlin. In a freewheeling conversation, Merkel talked pointedly about refugees, selfies, and the integration of immigrants.
In partnership with BILD, Business Insider has published an English translation below."
The headline is somewhat misleading: Merkel's remark about wanting a US-style border control system is a minor point made in an extensive interview that focuses on Germany's response to the mass arrival of refugees in Europe from spring and summer 2015 onwards.
Merkel offers her opinions on why Germany decided not to close its borders to people seeking safety; what is to be done to integrate them; and her views on other aspects of the response, such as the EU-Turkey deal. On this latter issue, she notes:
"First of all, I consider the word ‘deal’ to be entirely inappropriate in this context. We are talking about an extensive agreement of the EU with Turkey that is in our mutual interest, so there is no one-sided dependency. We are responsible for helping Turkey in sheltering refugees, close to their home countries. Turkey, at the same time, cannot be interested in people drowning in the Aegean every day and traffickers and other criminals taking hold of Turkish coastal towns. It is in the interest of both parties – the EU and Turkey – to establish legality."
It is striking that despite this interest in establishing "legality", throughout the whole interview there is no mention of giving refugees the possibility to arrive in Europe legally and safely, for example by establishing a humanitarian visa scheme - which the Council of the EU continues to oppose (the Parliament's backs the idea) - or abolishing "carrier sanctions", which levy penalties on transport companies that carry individuals lacking the required documentation to enter the EU.
On humanitarian visas, see a study for the European Parliament: Humanitarian visas: option or obligation?
(September 2014, pdf)
And: the latest "four-column" document on an amended EU Visa Code: Draft Regulation on the Union Code on Visas (recast)
(9 June 2016, 10026/16, pdf)
The European Parliament has proposed a new Article 22(5), establishing a European humanitarian visa. No "compromise" position on the proposal is included in the document. Although the Council does not explicitly propose rejecting the Parliament's proposal, it has not - yet - agreed to it.
On carrier sanctions, see a forthcoming European Citizens' Initiative: LetsFly2Europe