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Germany: Falsely imprisoned Syrian did not commit suicide

Prosecutors are now probing possible charges of negligent homicide after a 26-year-old burned to death in his prison cell. The man was a victim of mistaken identity and should not have been incarcerated. A wrongfully imprisoned Syrian man, Amed A., whose death was ruled a suicide in the western German town of Kleve appeared to have called for help, local media reported on Thursday, casting doubt on the official account of the man's passing. The daily Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger wrote that a report passed around in the state parliament of North Rhine-Westphalia, where Kleve lies, indicated that the man had not intentionally set himself on fire. Indeed, it appeared that he had tried to call for help. The public prosecutor is now going to investigate whether the intercom in his cell had been purposely disabled or was accidentally malfunctioning. Read more: Germany: State minister apologizes for death of jailed Syrian man Prosecutors will also decide whether to file charges of negligent homicide against prison employees. This includes the jail's doctor, who according to the Bild newspaper, may have omitted or altered important details in the deceased man's health report. Mistaken identity North Rhine-Westphalian Interior Minister Herbert Reul, of Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democrats (CDU), has already admitted that the 26-year-old had been the victim of mistaken identity and should not have been in detention. The state's opposition Social Democrats (SPD) have called for a far-reaching investigation into official misconduct. The SPD accused the ruling CDU-Free Democrats (FDP) coalition of providing misleading and inaccurate information about the case. The lawmakers also want an explanation as to how a Syrian mad could be confused with a criminal suspect from the African nation of Mali.

Prosecutors are now probing possible charges of negligent homicide after a 26-year-old burned to death in his prison cell. The man was a victim of mistaken identity and should not have been incarcerated. A wrongfully imprisoned Syrian man, Amed A., whose death was ruled a suicide in the western German town of Kleve appeared to have called for help, local ... Read More »

German intelligence foiled 2016 Islamic State terror attack

Intelligence officials in Germany thwarted a 2016 attack that was planned by the "Islamic State" militant group. A couple who traveled to Syria was said to be trying to send teams of militants back to Germany. Three teams of "Islamic State" (IS) terrorists were to have traveled to Germany in 2016 to prepare for and carry out a devastating attack – with the target possibly a music festival. A man, Oguz G., and woman, Marcia M., who traveled to Syrian in autumn 2015 to join IS were to have played a central role in the attack. From IS' then-de facto capital of Raqqa, Marcia M. — who was herself a convert to Islam — tried to recruit women in northern Germany to marry IS members so that they could be granted permission to enter Germany. However, one of the women who was contacted was an informant for Germany's domestic intelligence agency, the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution (BfV), who alerted authorities. Details of the case emerged after an investigation by the German broadcasters ARD and WDR, as well as the Süddeutsche Zeitung and Zeit newspapers. The case was confirmed by the German Federal Prosecutor's Office. "We learned of the attack plan, so we were able to able to initiate criminal proceedings in October 2016," Public Prosecutor General Peter Frank told ARD. "For us, the facts in the case were very concrete and also credible."   In Kurdish custody The plans were foiled both as a result of the investigation and the purging of IS from areas that it once occupied. Zeit reported that the couple handed themselves in to Kurdish authorities in October 2017. Since then, they have been held in detention in northern Syria. Read more: Germany: How do terrorist groups compare? There, reporters interviewed the Oguz G., who was reported to come from the German city of Hildesheim, in the northern state of Lower Saxony. He claimed to have become embroiled in the attack plan accidentally and to have tried to get out of the situation once he knew about the attack plan. The plot is thought to have been initiated by a high-ranking IS official with the combat name Abu Mussab al Almani, possibly relating to Swiss Islamist militant Thomas C., who died in fighting in Syria.

Intelligence officials in Germany thwarted a 2016 attack that was planned by the “Islamic State” militant group. A couple who traveled to Syria was said to be trying to send teams of militants back to Germany. Three teams of “Islamic State” (IS) terrorists were to have traveled to Germany in 2016 to prepare for and carry out a devastating attack ... Read More »

Nations League: Toothless Germany slump to dismal defeat in Amsterdam

The Netherlands beat Germany for the first time in 16 years as Joachim Löw's side produced another dismal performance, slumping to a 3-0 defeat in Amsterdam. The loss ramps up the pressure on Germany's beleaguered coach. Netherlands 3-0 Germany (Van Dijk 30', Depay 86', Wijnaldum 90') Germany's dismal year under Joachim Löw continued with a spineless performance in Amsterdam. Löw's side created plenty of chances but couldn't finish any of them, as Ronald Koeman's team ruthlessly disposed of Germany, with a goal before the break and two more in the final five minutes. The lack of cutting edge in front of goal is a big concern for Löw, given the talent at his disposal. And things won't get any easier for his team, who now travel to Paris in need of a win against the world champions. Germany made the stronger start in the Dutch capital, pinning the Netherlands back in the early stages. Timo Werner had the first chance early on, darting onto the end of Thomas Müller's bent through ball, but was unable to apply to finishing touch to the move. Müller then came close to scoring himself, unleashing a fine first-time shot from a Toni Kroos cutback, only for Jasper Cillessen to deny him with an athletic save to his right. The momentum was with Germany but the Netherlands struck to immediately take the wind out of Germany's sails. A corner from the right was met by Ryan Babel, who out-jumped Jonas Hector to head against the bar, and the rebound was nodded in by the towering figure of Virgil van Dijk. The Netherlands were centimeters away from making it two shortly after when a low cross was flashed across Manuel Neuer's goal by Denzel Dumfries. With Babel about to tuck away the Netherlands' second, Matthias Ginter made a superb goal-line clearance to keep Germany in the game. Müller spurned a chance to level for Germany when he was put clean through by Emre Can as Germany struggled to find a cutting edge in attack. Memphis Depay could have made things worse for Germany when he escaped the notice of the very poor Jerome Boateng on the stroke of halftime, but couldn't direct his header on target — much to the relief of the stranded Neuer. An open first half gave way to a cagier second as Netherlands sat deeper in an attempt to hurt Germany on the break. Instead, the strategy played into Germany's hands as it allowed the former world champions to dictate the game — but Löw's side just couldn't finish off their chances. Löw threw on Leroy Sane and Julian Draxler as Germany became increasingly desperate, and Sane missed a golden opportunity to break his 14-game international duck, but snatched at his shot when he only had Cillessen to beat, dragging the ball wide when he had to score. The Netherlands were a threat on the break and could have wrapped the win when the impressive Depay led the attack alone and went for goal, but Neuer denied him. It mattered little, as Depay sealed a huge win for the Dutch with four minutes to play, capping a slick counter attack after Julian Draxler gave the ball away. Depay's callous finish showed Germany exactly what needed to be done. Georginio Wijnaldum put the icing on the cake in stoppage time, gliding past Boateng and Hector, and finishing expertly into the bottom corner to complete a miserable night for the Germans.

The Netherlands beat Germany for the first time in 16 years as Joachim Löw’s side produced another dismal performance, slumping to a 3-0 defeat in Amsterdam. The loss ramps up the pressure on Germany’s beleaguered coach. Netherlands 3-0 Germany (Van Dijk 30′, Depay 86′, Wijnaldum 90′) Germany’s dismal year under Joachim Löw continued with a spineless performance in Amsterdam. Löw’s ... Read More »

Unemployed in Germany have greatest risk of poverty in the EU

Despite being one of Europe's wealthiest and economically-stable countries, Germany has the highest risk of poverty for the unemployed. According to the latest EU figures, the risk is as high as 70 percent. Those who are unemployed in Germany face a much bigger risk of falling into poverty than in any other European Union country, according to figures released by European statistics office Eurostat on Monday. After analyzing data from 2016, Eurostat found that the risk of poverty for those on unemployment benefit in Germany is at 70.8 percent - significantly higher than the average of 48.7 percent across Europe. Read more: Poverty, homelessness on the rise despite German affluence Lithuania was a distant second at 60.5 percent, followed by Latvia with a poverty risk of 55.8 percent. The countries with the lowest risk poverty for the unemployed — all under 40 percent — were France, Cyprus and Finland. Eurostat defines people as being at risk of poverty if their income is less than 60 percent of the national median. That means, in effect, that incomes of poorer people in Germany are growing at a slower rate than those above the median. Read more: The ticking timebomb of German poverty Forcing people into poorly-paid work Germans who have lost their jobs can at first claim 60 percent of their salaries as unemployment benefit (or 67 percent if they have children) - provided they have been paying social insurance contributions for at least 12 months. After a certain period, which depends on how long they were in work, unemployed people must claim a standard benefit known colloquially as "Hartz IV," - currently set at €416 ($512) a month. Housing benefits have to be claimed separately. "The new numbers don't surprise me," said Ulrich Schneider, head of the Paritätische Gesamtverband, an umbrella organization for a number of charities and social equality organizations. "This is the fruit of German social security policies. In 2005 we abolished a benefit for the unemployed that ensured that many unemployed people got something beyond Hartz IV - the result is that there is a bigger gap between the employed and the unemployed than elsewhere." Schneider also said he was baffled that Germany's welfare system has a reputation for generosity abroad. "These were conscious political decisions, because it was hoped that this would force more people into low income jobs," he told DW. "Germany's social state has been deliberately pared down since 2002. Look at health insurance: nowadays you can't get eyeglass prescriptions anymore, and waiting times for doctors have grown." The fallout, Schneider argued, is growing social fragmentation - even if Germany's poor are still better off than their counterparts in Bulgaria, say, they end up more cut off from their own society. "If I can't keep up with the average income, I get marginalized. That means many things that are natural for others are impossible for me - being a member of a sports club, for example, or allowing my child to learn a musical instrument." Opposition outrage Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservative Christian Democrats (CDU) and their Bavarian sister-party the Christian Social Union (CSU) have been presiding over Germany's welfare state in coalition with the center-left Social Democrats (SPD) since 2013. The opposition did not waste the opportunity to attack the government. Left party leader Katja Kipping called the Eurostat figures a "resounding smack in the face for the CDU, CSU and SPD." Kipping said the coalition government "has to answer for the catastrophic situation," but has "apparently no desire to change anything." The Green party's labor market spokesmen Wolfgang Strengmann-Kuhn and Sven Lehmann were equally outraged, describing the figures as "sorry proof of the inadequacies of our social welfare system." "We have to improve the access to unemployment insurance for everyone, including short-term contractors, the self-employed, and others without security," they said in a joint statement. But Christoph Schröder, senior researcher at the Cologne Institute for Economic Research (IW), pointed out that the total unemployment rate had dropped significantly in the past decade. Calculated as the percentage of unemployed people of all those available to the job market, the rate is currently at 5.8 percent, down from 11.7 percent in 2005. That equates to a total of 2.57 million people, down from 4.86 million in 2005. "I think that shows that the people that are still unemployed now are likely to be long-term unemployed," Schröder told DW. "But we have also criticized that less money is being spent on helping the long-term unemployed than previously." "We did have increasing inequality, and increasing poverty risk rates, since the end of the 1990s until around 2005, though since then there hasn't been a particular increase," he added. "There has been an increase because of the relatively high immigration rate - but if you take that out you have only a slight increase in inequality." Read more: Rich vs. poor: How fair and equal is Germany?

Despite being one of Europe’s wealthiest and economically-stable countries, Germany has the highest risk of poverty for the unemployed. According to the latest EU figures, the risk is as high as 70 percent. Those who are unemployed in Germany face a much bigger risk of falling into poverty than in any other European Union country, according to figures released by ... Read More »

German court allows city ban on diesel cars

Germany's top administrative court has ruled that it is legal for cities to ban diesel cars. The government opposes the bans, but is under pressure from the EU to do more to combat air pollution. Germany's Federal Administrative Court in Leipzig ruled on Tuesday that cities may be permitted to put driving bans in place for diesel vehicles. The ruling does not determine whether the bans will be implemented, but rather that German states, cities and communities have the right to impose them to maintain air pollution limits without needing federal legislation. Read more: Move is on to ban diesel cars from cities Environmental Action Germany (DUH), the environmental and consumer watchdog organization that first brought the case, praised the court's decision, calling it a "great day for clean air in Germany." Tuesday's decision concerned two earlier court rulings in Stuttgart and Dusseldorf, the capital cities of the German states of Baden-Württemberg and North Rhine-Westphalia, where air pollution massively exceeds allowable levels. DUH initially sued both cities, saying they hadn't done enough to combat emissions. The court in Stuttgart said driving bans were the "most effective" means to improve air quality and safeguard health in urban areas, while the Dusseldorf court found the bans had to be "seriously examined." Read more: Can free public transport really reduce pollution? Berlin: Bans are 'avoidable' The German government is hoping to avoid the driving bans, saying that it would be possible to reduce air pollution in urban zones without banning older diesel cars. "The court has not issued any driving bans but created clarity about the law. Driving bans can be avoided, and my goal is and will remain that they do not come into force," German Environment Minister Barbara Hendricks said following the court's decision. Chancellor Angela Merkel noted that the bans, should cities choose to carry them out, wouldn't affect all drivers in Germany, but said the government would discuss with urban regions and municipalities on how to proceed. "This concerns individual cities where more needs to be done, but it's not really about the entire area of Germany and all car owners," Merkel said. German drivers anxious over bans Besides the German government, the country's influential car industry also opposes diesel driving bans. Millions of German drivers and businesses have also been anxiously awaiting the court's decision, with many concerned about their disrupted driving routes and a possible devaluation of their vehicles. Read more: Will taxpayers foot the bill for Dieselgate? Still, facing possible legal action from the European Union over the Germany's air quality, the German government is preparing alternatives. The Transport Ministry could update traffic regulations to include an option for cities to impose diesel bans on certain routes later this year.

Germany’s top administrative court has ruled that it is legal for cities to ban diesel cars. The government opposes the bans, but is under pressure from the EU to do more to combat air pollution. Germany’s Federal Administrative Court in Leipzig ruled on Tuesday that cities may be permitted to put driving bans in place for diesel vehicles. The ruling ... Read More »

Merkel taps possible successor Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer as next CDU secretary general

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has nominated Saarland state Premier Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer to be the CDU's next secretary general. She will take over from Peter Tauber, who is stepping down due to health reasons. Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, premier of the small western German state of Saarland, was nominated on Monday to take over as secretary general of Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democrats (CDU). Kramp-Karrenbauer, one of Merkel's closest allies, is respected in the CDU for helping the party win Saarland's state election last year and played a key role in coalition talks between the conservatives and the Social Democrats (SPD). Announcing the decision at a press conference, Merkel said the the party's board accepted Kramp-Karrenbauer's nomination with "strong support," adding that the state premier could "play a stronger role on the national level." Kramp-Karrenbauer announced that by accepting the nomination, she would be stepping down as Saarland's state premier. "We're experiencing one oft he most difficult political phases in Germany's (postwar) history. I believe that one shouldn't only talk about responsibility in such times, but should also be prepared to be personally engaged," Kramp-Karrenbauer said in a statement. According to the German daily Süddeutsche Zeitung, Merkel and Kramp-Karrenbauer agreed she would take over the post months ago once it became clear that the current secretary general would not continue. The outgoing CDU secretary general, 43-year-old Peter Tauber, is stepping down from his post following a serious illness, party sources said on Sunday. In a blog post headlined "Why I'm making way for a new general secretary" — deliberately using the female form of the word — he announced his departure from the post on Monday, Tauber urged for the CDU to become "younger, more female and more diverse." "There are not enough young people, far too few women, and not enough Germans with an immigration background who are involved in our ranks," he wrote. Rumored Merkel successor Kramp-Karrenbauer's nomination is significant as the center-right party starts to look for someone who will lead the party and possibly Germany after Merkel. Saarland's 55-year-old premier has led two successive state coalition governments with the CDU and the center-left SPD. Before becoming CDU party head and chancellor, Merkel was also the CDU's secretary general. Read more: Germany's Angela Merkel says she's still in control, despite coalition concessions to SPD Merkel's conservative CDU and its Bavarian sister-party, the Christian Social Union (CSU) struck a deal with the SPD to form another grand coalition government that has held power in Germany since 2013. It's the first time Kramp-Karrenbauer, also referred to as "AKK," will have played a role on the national political stage. The move could prove risky, however, as Kramp-Karrenbauer isn't a member of parliament, and could put her in conflict with the CDU's powerful parliamentary group, reported Süddeutsche Zeitung. At a party congress in Berlin on February 26, CDU delegates will vote on the coalition deal, as well as decide the party's next secretary general. Read more: New members in Germany's SPD may play pivotal role in coalition deal's success The coalition deal's final fate, however, rests with the SPD's 464,000 party members who will start voting on the deal via a postal ballot on Tuesday. The results will be announced on March 4. Each evening at 1830 UTC, DW's editors send out a selection of the day's hard news and quality feature journalism. You can sign up to receive it directly here.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has nominated Saarland state Premier Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer to be the CDU’s next secretary general. She will take over from Peter Tauber, who is stepping down due to health reasons. Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, premier of the small western German state of Saarland, was nominated on Monday to take over as secretary general of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats ... Read More »

Mafia raids in Germany, Italy: Police make over 170 arrests

German and Italian police have detained scores of people with alleged ties to the 'Ndrangheta mafia. The suspects formed part of a transnational network involving bakeries, funeral services and vineyards, police said. Authorities in Germany and Italy busted a 'Ndrangheta mafia clan on Tuesday, detaining scores of suspects and seizing millions of euros in property. In Germany, 11 men between the ages of 36 and 41 were detained in the states of Bavaria, Hesse, North-Rhine Westphalia and Baden-Württemberg, Germany's Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA) said in a statement. Read more: German authorities struggle to curb Russian mafia care home exploitation International crackdown German authorities said the men were suspected of blackmail and money laundering, and that the detentions were carried out at the request of Italian authorities. The BKA added that anti-mafia police in Italy detained another 160 people in the joint operation. Italian authorities said they also seized some €50 million ($60 million) worth of property. The list of charges facing the suspects in Italy ranges from attempted murder to illegal possession of firearms to illegal waste transportation. Read more: Italian, German police seize millions, bust Sicilian mafia ring Funerals in Italy, wine in Germany The Farao-Marincola clan, the 'Ndrangheta crime network that was targeted in Tuesday's raids, is believed to have infiltrated local businesses in the town of Ciro, located in the southern region of Calabria, Italy. Around Ciro, the suspects were involved in local bakeries, fishing, funeral services and waste recycling. In Germany, they controlled the supply of pizza ingredients and wine to local Italian restaurants. "They controlled all the economic activity in entire towns," said Italian prosecutor Nicola Gratteri. "It concerned all commercial activity and obviously political power as well." From Frankfurt to Stuttgart Outside of Italy, the clan had bases in the German cities of Frankfurt, Wiesbaden, Munich and Stuttgart, the anti-mafia prosecutors' office said in a statement. Read more: German police 'forced to choose' between mafia and terror Italian prosecutors specifically accused the suspects of driving out all the baking competition in Ciro so that locals were forced to buy bread from the remaining mob-controlled bakery. Furthermore, the clan also controlled cooperatives that were involved in migrant reception centers. Politicians targeted The Italy-based ANSA news agency reported that around 10 local politicians were among those arrested. The 'Ndrangheta is considered to be one of the world's most powerful and dangerous Mafia organizations, with the FBI estimating it has 6,000 members spread between some 160 clans. The mafia network has also spread to Germany, the United States, Canada and Australia. Read more: Mafia boss connected to Duisburg murders captured The BKA recognized the 'Ndrangheta as Germany's most dominant crime syndicate in 2015.

German and Italian police have detained scores of people with alleged ties to the ‘Ndrangheta mafia. The suspects formed part of a transnational network involving bakeries, funeral services and vineyards, police said. Authorities in Germany and Italy busted a ‘Ndrangheta mafia clan on Tuesday, detaining scores of suspects and seizing millions of euros in property. In Germany, 11 men between ... Read More »

Deniz Naki: A political footballer in fear of his life

Deniz Naki has gone from one of Germany's most promising footballers to hiding in a safe house after an attempt on his life. Naki's political views have long had a big impact on his career. But how did it come to this? A little less than a decade ago, Deniz Naki was part of a German success story, named in the "team of the tournament" as the country picked up a seventh European Under-19 Championship. Naki lifted the trophy with the likes of Sven Bender, Lars Bender, Ömer Toprak and plenty of others still playing at the top level. But at the start of 2018, Naki is now at the center of a story of a very different kind. The 28-year-old with German-Kurdish roots was shot at while driving down the A4 motorway near his home town of Düren, in the west of Germany, on Monday. He is reportedly now in a "safe place" receiving police protection following the apparent assasination attempt, which is being investigated as attempted murder. He told German media how he ducked before pulling over to the hard shoulder and surviving unharmed before claiming that the attack was of a political nature. "I think that this is about a political issue," Naki told Spiegel magazine's online platform Bento. "I am a continual target in Turkey because I make pro-Kurdish statements." While it was initially reported by numerous sources that Naki was suggesting the Turkish secret service were involved in the shooting, his lawyer told DW's Gezal Acer on Tuesday that this was false and the footballer "thought an ultra-nationalist Turkish group in Germany could be behind it." Even before the latest incident, controversy has never been far from the surface of the forward's career, particularly in recent years. The former St. Pauli player has been a vocal critic of the Turkish government's treatment of the country's Kurdish ethnic group and a supporter of the Kurdistan Worker's Party (PKK) - who stand for Kurdish nationalism but are considered a terrorist organization by the European Union. Just last year, after initially being found not guilty less than a year earlier, he was handed an 18 month suspended jail sentence for promoting "terror propaganda" for the PKK on social media channels. Naki tweeted his opinion about a Turkish military offensive against the PKK and a curfew was imposed in seven cities in southeast Anatolia, in the west of Turkey. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's treatment of dissidents has been condemned in many quarters but DW's Acer says Naki's case is unique. "Until now it had often been journalists or academics or writers who felt threatened, but we haven't heard of this happening with any other athletes," she said. "So we can't say concretely that athletes or sports figures are feeling under threat or in danger." Whether the threat is from government agencies or otherwise, Naki's political beliefs, and the consequences of those beliefs, have had a significant impact on his career. A tally of eight goals in 12 games this season shows at least some of the ability that shone so brightly as a teenager remains, despite the lowly level at which he now plays. After that European Championship win and a couple of caps for the German under-21 side alongside the likes of Toni Kroos, Jerome Boateng and Mats Hummels, Naki left Bayer Leverkusen for St. Pauli, a famously left wing club based in Hamburg. He was, and remains, a popular figure at the club but his stint is probably best remembered for his throat-slitting gesture during St Pauli's 2-0 win over Hansa Rostock in 2009. Clashes between the two had long been dangerously charged, with the right wing elements of Rostock's fan base opposed to the ideology espoused by St. Pauli, and the gesture was considered to incite violence. Naki received a three match ban for that, nine matches less than he'd eventually get for his social media support of the PKK, and, after a brief spell at Paderborn, he moved to Turkey, the country to which he'd pledged his national team allegiance after a pair of caps for Germany's under-21s — though he's yet to win a cap. Soon after his move to Genclerbirligi, Naki was the victim of an attack, the reason for which was thought to be his Kurdish ethnicity. "They were swearing and asking: 'Are you that dirty Kurd?'" Naki told the BBC after the 2014 attack. "Then they said: 'Damn your Kobane, damn your Sinjar'. I tried to calm them down. But suddenly one of them punched me in the eye. Trying to defend myself, I punched one of them back and started running away." He left the country a few days after, citing the possibility of further attacks as the reason for his departure. "There is no tolerance. I would only go back because I love my country, I love my hometown. That's it. I will carry on with my career in Germany," he said at the time. But it was a stone's throw from his hometown of Düren that his car windscreen was struck by a bullet. “I always knew that something like this could happen, but I would never have thought it could happen in Germany,” he told German newspaper Die Welt on Monday. Less than 48 hours after a gunman made him fear for his life, Naki's future — both sporting and otherwise — is unclear, much like his assailant. What has become increasingly obvious is that he is a sportsman doesn't seem prepared to separate his sport and his politics. The cost of that could have been, and still might be, enormous.

Deniz Naki has gone from one of Germany’s most promising footballers to hiding in a safe house after an attempt on his life. Naki’s political views have long had a big impact on his career. But how did it come to this? A little less than a decade ago, Deniz Naki was part of a German success story, named in ... Read More »

Berlin airport plans ‘soft launch’ without main terminal building

Berlin International Airport's chief hopes to save the country from further embarassment with his "BER Lite" project. The plan would see the airport open "metal boxes" instead of the elegantly designed main terminal. The firm behind Berlin's beleaguered new international airport confirmed to Deutsche Welle on Tuesday its latest gambit to save what has become perhaps Germany's longest-running joke and national embarrassment – a "soft launch" without the main terminal at Berlin Brandenburg Airport (BER). As first reported by Spiegel, the newest BER Director, Engelbert Lütke Daldrup, is set to present his "BER Lite" plan to the company's supervisory board on Friday. Lütke Daldrup is the fourth leader tasked with rescuing the project, which has missed successive opening dates in remarkable fashion since 2011. A disaster decades in the making After 15 years of planning, workers broke ground on the site in 2006. A series of failures in planning and execution, combined with accusations of mismanagement and corruption, has seen at least three proposed opening dates come and go, with the latest suggestion being autumn 2019. However, a report by regulator TÜV in November 2017 found that continued problems with fire safety controls would push back the opening another two years to 2021 at the very earliest. Until then, Berlin must continue to cope with in small, outdated Tegel and Schönfeld airports, while BER's completed hotels and storefronts are left to collect dust. According to Spiegel, Lütke Daldrup's new plan would see the airport's beautiful main terminal designed by star architect Meinhard von Gerkan remain closed while "industrial pre-fab" metal boxes house passengers on their way to other destinations. "Instead of Gerkan's vision of an elegant, easy-to-use airport, it would become a thrown-together airport city," Spiegel wrote. Whether or not the board accepts Lütke Daldrup's new vision for the "Master Plan 2040," remains to be seen on Friday. The board has said that it remains committed to opening the airport's main terminal – some day.

Berlin International Airport’s chief hopes to save the country from further embarassment with his “BER Lite” project. The plan would see the airport open “metal boxes” instead of the elegantly designed main terminal. The firm behind Berlin’s beleaguered new international airport confirmed to Deutsche Welle on Tuesday its latest gambit to save what has become perhaps Germany’s longest-running joke and ... Read More »

Warned against studying in Turkey, German exchange students share their stories

With German-Turkish relations at an all-time low, we meet four young German exchange students who chose to study at universities in Istanbul – despite warnings from family and friends. The current political tensions between Germany and Turkey are having an influence on social relations – including the student exchange program, Erasmus. German students going to Turkey with Erasmus have been affected, with some even changing their minds at the last minute and remaining in Germany. Others who decided to go ahead with their exchange were often met with dubious reactions. DW spoke with four students in Istanbul. Here are their stories. 'I was told I could end up in jail' Verena is 23 years old. In Germany, she studied social work and education at the Goethe University in Frankfurt. An Erasmus stay is an obligatory part of her studies. Verena has been studying abroad at Istanbul's Aydin University since September. Although her exchange semester is scheduled to end in January 2018, she would like to stay longer because she likes Istanbul so much. She has already submitted a request for an extension. "I don't like large crowds, but life in Istanbul is just wonderful," says Verena. Verena could have gone to the Netherlands, Spain or Switzerland, but she chose Turkey even though she had never been there before. The main reason was her curiosity about the country. But the reactions of her family and friends were not encouraging. "My friends who heard about my trip to Istanbul asked me: "Are you stupid? Don't you know how dangerous it is there? You could end up in jail.” Even at Frankfurt airport, one of the ground staff said to me, "Don't be stupid – don't go to Turkey." But these reactions made her even more curious. A former Erasmus student, who had already been to Istanbul, told her that the city is very beautiful and that she should definitely go. 'Distancing yourself from a country is not a solution' Malte is also spending his exchange semester in Istanbul, in his case at Bogazici University. In Germany, the 25-year-old studied economics at Berlin's Humboldt University. He regrets that he can only stay in Istanbul for one semester. For Malte, it is an exciting and interesting city, and that is why he came. He likes the liberal atmosphere at Bogazici. When he received his confirmation of the exchange to Turkey last year, he said he had concerns about going to Istanbul. He said his family in particular had been very worried about him, but finally had to accept his decision. "Clearly, it is not very reassuring to see that journalists are being arrested here, but distancing yourself from a country and isolating it is also not a solution." 'The crisis between the two countries won't get any bigger' Pascal, who is 23, has come to Istanbul's Bilgi University from Heidelberg for a semester. He studies political and economic sciences. The German media reports about Turkey were not enough for him to understand what has really happened in the country. He came to Istanbul so that he could form an idea of the country for himself. However, his family, especially his father, was very worried. "My father kept telling me, "Don't trust anyone!" He was imagining there would be policemen everywhere in Turkey, and it would be like it was in former communist countries." Istanbul has exceeded his expectations, he says. He thought that he would find a city full of depressed people. His fellow students at the university have no political concerns. On the issue of German-Turkish relations, he says: "Turkey has the means to get out of this crisis. But this crisis is not going to get any bigger, because both countries are dependent on each other." 'I don't get bored here' Dominique is 24, and like Verena, she came to Istanbul's Aydin University from Frankfurt as an Erasmus student. Turkey was not her first choice, she admits. In retrospect, however, she is very happy to be here. She says she loves the vibrancy of the city and never gets bored. Unlike other German students, her parents had different concerns about her destination. "My parents were afraid of earthquakes," she says. As a German studying in Turkey, she says she has had no problems in Istanbul, although not everyone she's met are fans of Germany. "We once went to an island by ferry. The captain invited us for tea and then asked where we were from. When we said we were Germans, he pulled a long face, but was still friendly."

With German-Turkish relations at an all-time low, we meet four young German exchange students who chose to study at universities in Istanbul – despite warnings from family and friends. The current political tensions between Germany and Turkey are having an influence on social relations – including the student exchange program, Erasmus. German students going to Turkey with Erasmus have been ... Read More »

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