Germany’s Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel has thrown his weight behind proposals to expand video surveillance. But the Social Democrat chief is less enthusiastic of plans for migrant transit zones at the borders.
Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel has published a paper entitled “Time for more security in times of growing uncertainty,” in which he details his party’s recommendations to tighten internal security in the wake of the Berlin Christmas market attack and the ongoing migrant crisis.
Public broadcaster ARD, which has obtained a copy of the document, said Gabriel supports plans for an expansion of video surveillance in public spaces, which was approved by cabinet just before Christmas, and the use of electronic tagging of offenders.
He also backed plans to speed up the deportation of failed asylum seekers and to create a uniform intelligence data system, which can be used at the local, regional and national level, ARD said.
But Gabriel, who is also Germany’s economy minister, opposes plans for transition zones at Germany’s borders to process applications for asylum from migrants.
He described them as “spurious solutions” that would weaken state responsibility for handling migrants.
German leaders under pressure
The SPD’s security paper comes amid a fierce debate about the processing of claims for asylum, after several violent incidents last summer, many carried out by refugees. They included the suicide bombing near a music festival in the southern city of Ansbach and the Würzburg train attack, among others.
Similarly, the Berlin attack on December 19, which left 12 people dead, was carried out by a Tunisian migrant, whose application for refuge in Germany was turned down, and whose deportation order had been held up due to delays identifying him.
Authorities have complained about the difficulty registering more than a million migrants over the past two years due to the use of multiple identities by many newcomers.
In his paper, Gabriel also called for better prevention measures in the security debate, to combat Islamist terrorism culturally, as well as through intelligence and police work. He said it was vital to tackle online extremist propaganda, and to work with Muslim communities.
At the same time, Gabriel called for “zero tolerance against hate preachers” which would ensure that radical Islamist and Salafist mosques operating in Germany would be closed down.
The SPD chief also warned those on the left of his party not to block increased security measures for purely ideological reasons. He said that could be used by political opponents in the future to blame the SPD for any “failure” to prevent another terrorist attack.