You are here: Home » Tag Archives: refugee crisis

Tag Archives: refugee crisis

Feed Subscription

Germany’s top court rules against education minister over anti-AfD statement

Federal ministers must exercise restraint in disputes between parties, Germany's Constitutional Court has ruled. The complaint against Education Minister Johanna Wanka was brought by the far-right opposition AfD party. Education Minister Johanna Wanka acted unconstitutionally when her ministry called for a "red card" boycott of the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) in 2015, Germany's highest court ruled on Tuesday in the city of Karlsruhe. Judges said Wanka, who is a member of Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democrats (CDU), breached the rule that cabinet ministers must be neutral in how they treat all political parties. Constitutional Court president Andreas Vosskuhle also noted that it is not the role of government agencies to encourage citizens to either boycott or take part in demonstrations. AfD party head Alexander Gauland praised the court's ruling, saying: "Thank God there are still judges in Karlsruhe." Co-head Jörg Meuthen said the decision "should be a lesson for other government ministers." Red card over ministry statement The case dates back to the height of Germany's crisis over hundreds of thousands of refugee arrivals. At the time, AfD supporters called for a "red card" demonstration in Berlin to protest Merkel's migration policy. In response, Wanka said in an Education Ministry press statement: "The red card should be shown against the AfD and not against the federal chancellor." Some senior AfD politicians and grassroots members have been criticized for making racist and anti-Semitic comments since the party was founded in 2013. The AfD in turn submitted an urgent petition to the Constitutional Court in Karlsruhe, resulting in the Education Ministry being required to remove her statement from its website. Read more: Bundestag slams far-right AfD, reaffirms Holocaust remembrance AfD now in federal parliament Back in 2015, the AfD held opposition seats in numerous regional assemblies. In last September's federal election, it entered the federal Bundestag parliament, becoming the largest opposition grouping. Under a part Cabinet line-up announced by Merkel on Monday, Wanka, 57, who some time ago intimated her exit from Cabinet, would be replaced as education minister by CDU newcomer Anja Karliczek, 46. Wanka in profile Wanka originates from Saxony in former communist East Germany (GDR). She studied mathematics in Leipzig and received her doctorate in 1980. During the peaceful uprising in 1989 she helped found a citizens' opposition group in Merseburg, where in 1994, after the fall of the Berlin Wall, she became rector of Merseburg's university of applied science. From 2010 until 2013 she was regional minister for science and culture in Hannover, the capital of Germany's northern state of Lower Saxony. Wanka was brought into Merkel's Cabinet in 2013 after the resignation of Annette Schavan over plagiarism in her 1980 doctorate. rs, ipj/kms (dpa, AFP, Reuters)

Federal ministers must exercise restraint in disputes between parties, Germany’s Constitutional Court has ruled. The complaint against Education Minister Johanna Wanka was brought by the far-right opposition AfD party. Education Minister Johanna Wanka acted unconstitutionally when her ministry called for a “red card” boycott of the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) in 2015, Germany’s highest court ruled on Tuesday in ... Read More »

Security expert Bruns: ‘There should be a European naval aid unit’

Europe is divided over the refugee crisis and there is no unified approach in response, says Sebastian Bruns. According to the security expert, a joint naval aid unit could provide an opportunity. Deutsche Welle: Looking at the map, there's Libya as a failed state on the one side and Italy overburdened with refugees on the other. Can you describe the risks that are created in this part of the Mediterranean Sea? Sebastian Bruns: The area between Libya and Italy is one of the narrowest parts of the Mediterranean. It is the main route for illegal migration where smugglers and trafficking networks operate, and desperate people from Africa and Asia cross over. When the Balkan route was closed, migrants started looking for alternative routes, which they found here. The EU-run naval mission Sophia is also active in this part of the Mediterranean, increasing chances of rescue and survival. Read: EU countries decline to help Italy with Mediterranean refugee crisis Why is the area so difficult to control? One of the main issues is the sheer size: The area that "Sophia" patrols is about as big as Germany. There are between six to eight vessels operating as part of the mission in addition to private rescue organizations. But this is not enough. You can only cover an area of this size by providing more aerial coverage than currently is available. You need additional aircraft in order to coordinate this. This is a difficult endeavor. And at the end of the day, you also need the political commitment to a permanent presence. But Europe is divided over the refugee crisis. There is no integrated European Coast Guard; various coast guards and the marine units are all still national entities. Frontex does finally have a maritime mandate, but the problem is the second-rate treatment that the EU border protection agency receives from EU-member states, as it does not have its own large vessels or planes. Italy has announced to block the extension of Sophia, calling into question the mission itself. What has to happen next? The root causes of migration have to be addressed on the ground; there is no way around it. All the efforts produced by the marine units, private NGOs or Frontex are merely fighting the symptoms. Libya needs proper structures that prevent smuggling networks from operating. And further south, the root causes of migration also have to be addressed. That's a task for an entire generation to deal with. But Europe only wants to deploy limited resources. On the one hand, there is a willingness to implement a 'Marshall plan' for Africa, which I am skeptical about. On the other hand, European forces are also needed elsewhere. There are many other hotspots, not only because Russia is acting in increasingly belligerent ways since 2014.There is Syria, the eastern Mediterranean, the north Atlantic, the Baltic Sea, and Antarctica. I think Italy's attempt to block Sophia is partly an act of despair. What ideas are there for alternative measures that could increase maritime security? First of all, there is the European Union Border Assistance Mission (EUBAM) in Libya which has been training the Libyan Coast Guard since 2016. This involves apprenticeship training for maritime sailors. However, equipment, ships and training are also needed, and it remains extremely difficult to create a national coast guard in Libya because of the situation with the warlords, which creates different, opposing forces that mistrust and fight each other. And it is not enough to create a functional coast guard; you also need port police, prosecutors, courts, everything that makes up "good governance." This is a monumental task as well. Secondly, there should be a European naval aid unit for this part of the Mediterranean. I proposed this idea in an article once. What I mean by that is that countries have to stop sending ships and destroyers individually and join together their efforts instead. All EU-countries should participate with coast guard ships, water police, and smaller units - the kind of units that don't necessarily need to be equipped to hunt submarines in the Atlantic. It would take some of the burden off of European naval forces. Private rescue missions could also be involved in this naval unit, which would help advance the integration of civilian, military and police forces. There are many proposals concerning Libya and this part of the Mediterranean, but they need to be tied together. Such a naval aid unit could possibly be a step forward. Read: 'Defend Europe' Identitarians charter a ship to return migrants to Africa You are proposing a unified naval aid unit. How can it be put into practice? I suggest we finally follow up on the idea of a European coast guard. We need an integrated structure where police, military and civilian helpers can collaborate and coordinate. We also need the political backing for this. For the EU, this would provide a chance for further integration. But this also requires a certain level of honesty when addressing the tasks and purposes of this unit. We can no longer dodge the question of how we want to proceed in this area of maritime security. But such a European coast guard is definitely a first step to take. Dr. Sebastian Bruns is head of the Center for Maritime Strategy and Security at the Institute for Security Policy at the University Kiel.

Europe is divided over the refugee crisis and there is no unified approach in response, says Sebastian Bruns. According to the security expert, a joint naval aid unit could provide an opportunity. Deutsche Welle: Looking at the map, there’s Libya as a failed state on the one side and Italy overburdened with refugees on the other. Can you describe the ... Read More »

Italian coastguard rescues thousands of refugees

Officers have rescued 5,700 migrants trying to cross the Mediterranean in the last two days, the Italian coastguard said. They also recovered 14 bodies of refugees who drowned while crossing over from Libya. The coastguard coordinated 20 rescue operations over the weekend, intercepting about 2,400 people. Around 3,300 more migrants disembarked in five different ports in Sicily over the two days, the ANSA news agency reported. Rescue workers also saved over 460 migrants who arrived in Naples on Sunday, but it was not clear if those rescued had been accounted for in prior counts, local interior minister Gerarda Pantalone told reporters. "I've never had a SAR [Search and Rescue] like it. We were in the process of transferring 1,000 migrants from the Okyroe [tanker] to the Siem Pilot when suddenly, in the dark, rubber boats appeared. It looked hopeless," Pal Erik Teigen, the police officer in charge of the rescue operation, told reporters on Sunday. The Italian coastguard said it recovered seven dead bodies on Friday and another seven the next day. Around 25 people were still missing and were feared drowned after the Libyan coastguard attacked a migrant dinghy during a rescue operation. Rescue workers of the German navy also saved 844 people in the weekend's operation together with the Italians. The refugees were being brought to an Italian harbor aboard the support ship Werra. The German military has been participating in the action, called Operation Sophia, since 2015. Italy is the main landing point for migrants who travel from North Africa and undertake a perilous voyage in flimsy vessels over the Mediterranean Sea to reach Europe. These boats are often overcrowded, and passengers are exposed to exhaust fumes or suffer from hypothermia or dehydration. According to the International Institute of Migration (IOM), 146,381 migrants have landed in Italy so far this year. Around 3,645 refugees have died on the journey. Meanwhile, Rome has been engaged in a row with the European Commission on funding for the refugees. Prime Minister Matteo Renzi complained about the lack of solidarity from EU partners. "We cannot go on like this, we need a radical solution," he said on a visit to Sicily over the weekend. He also insisted on a fine to penalize Eastern European nations that refused to take in migrants.

Officers have rescued 5,700 migrants trying to cross the Mediterranean in the last two days, the Italian coastguard said. They also recovered 14 bodies of refugees who drowned while crossing over from Libya. The coastguard coordinated 20 rescue operations over the weekend, intercepting about 2,400 people. Around 3,300 more migrants disembarked in five different ports in Sicily over the two ... Read More »

Merkel confident about overcoming refugee crisis, Turkey dilemma

Despite losing support after her famous pro-refugee slogan, "We can do it," Chancellor Merkel is confident that Germany will ride the migrant crisis. The leader spoke to Germany's public broadcaster ARD. In an interview on Sunday, Chancellor Angela Merkel defended her refugee policy, saying that she had made it clear last year that it would be a big task integrating migrants coming to Germany. "We have achieved a lot since then and we need to do some more," Merkel told the presenters, referring to her famous slogan, "Wir schaffen das," German for, "We can do it." "We are at a completely different position since last year," Merkel said, adding that the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF) had thousands of new employees dealing with the newcomers. The government in Berlin is supporting local administrations and state governments in overcoming the crisis. There were new and stricter rules for refugees who could not stay in Germany and migrants were being told they needed to integrate and learn German, Merkel told ARD. Merkel also addressed the distribution of migrants within Europe, saying that the European Union needed to find a common solution. "Every member must do their share," Merkel said, adding that countries could not just reject migrants because they were Muslims. The bloc also needed to work on an coherent internal security policy and the implementation of the refugee pact with Turkey, the chancellor said. Chancellor Merkel emphasized the bloc's discussions with Britain on the latter's exit from the European Union, saying that the Brexit was a break from the past and member states needed to think about a solution in peace. "We all agree in the European Union that Britain's exit, the result of the referendum, will have a big impact … Rather than rushing into acitivities, we should perhaps first take time to think about what we, as the 27 countries, must do better." Conflicts abroad Merkel also referred to her statement regarding the loyalty of Germany's Turkish citizens. "I keep saying that I'm their chancellor too and I think it's important to profess that and it's good if that is reciprocated by commitment to our country and not by bringing conflicts from Turkey to Germany," she said. Pressure has mounted among Germany's Turks following a failed coup against Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in July. His backers have demonstrated in several German cities, where supporters of the Gülen movement are believed to coexist. Fethullah Gülen, who runs a movement spanning businesses and academia, lives in exile in the US and is accused of having orchestrated the coup. The chancellor also addressed the Ukraine crisis, lamenting the fact that the Minsk Pact had not been adhered to. Sanctions against Russia would remain in place, considering the situation in eastern Ukraine, Merkel said. However, she emphasized that the bloodbath in Syria had to be stopped and that this could only be done through discussion. There was no military solution to it. Merkel evaded all questions regarding her candidacy for a fourth term as chancellor, saying she would make an announcement when the time was right. A new poll conducted by the survey company Emnid, says that half of Germans oppose the chancellor seeking another term.

Despite losing support after her famous pro-refugee slogan, “We can do it,” Chancellor Merkel is confident that Germany will ride the migrant crisis. The leader spoke to Germany’s public broadcaster ARD. In an interview on Sunday, Chancellor Angela Merkel defended her refugee policy, saying that she had made it clear last year that it would be a big task integrating ... Read More »

German state elections: Success for right-wing AfD, losses for Merkel’s CDU

Official results show significant success for the populist right-wing AfD in three key state elections. Chancellor Merkel's CDU saw losses in two out of three states; attributed to her refugee policies. The right-leaning AfD managed to enter all three state parliaments, winning double-digit percentage results in Baden-Württemberg, Rhineland-Palatinate and Saxony-Anhalt, according to official results. More than 12 million Germans were eligible to vote in the polls to elect new regional parliaments in the three states. Saxony-Anhalt The AfD won 24.2 percent in the eastern German state of Saxony-Anhalt, making it the second largest party after the ruling CDU, which managed to win 29.8 percent. The SPD meanwhile was dwarfed to 10.6 percent, behind the Left Party which won 16.3 percent. The current prime minister of Saxony-Anhalt, Reiner Haseloff, said that the results showed a clear mandate for his CDU party to lead a coalition government. "We are going to build a strong, center government in Saxony-Anhalt," he said. "We need to deal with the issue as mainstream parties and find a solution." The current coalition of CDU and SPD, however, cannot continue, as the two parties together do not hold a majority of the seats in the state parliament. At the same time, the state leader of the Left, Birke Bull, described the projected results for her party as "bitter." "We have failed to convince the electorate," she said. Rhineland-Palatinate In the western state of Rhineland-Palatinate the ruling SPD is set to remain in power, with final results putting them at 36.2 percent. The conservative CDU, led by Julia Klöckner, lost around three percent, putting it at 31.8 per cent. The Greens barely managed to cross the five percent threshhold needed for representation in Parliament. Meanwhile, the AfD managed to win 12.6 percent. The SPD-frontrunner Malu Drayer refused to answer a question on the issue of post electoral coalitions. "I am not going to lean towards anything today - today, I am going to celebrate," she said. DW's Kate Brady reported celebration from the scene at the SPD headquarters. Baden-Württemberg In Baden-Württemberg, the ruling Green Party gained a substantial 30.3 percent, while the CDU, which ruled the state for almost six decades until 2011, lost a dramatic 11 percent bringing it down to 27 percent. The AfD also managed to win 15.1 percent in the state, putting it in third place before the SPD, currently the junior coalition partner in government, which fell to 12.7 percent (from 23) in 2011. Prime Minister of Baden-Württemberg Winfried Kretschmann described the results as a historic victory for the Green Party. "I see this plebiscite as an assignment to once more establish the state government and provide the premier," he said. Because of the SPD's losses it will not be possible for the current coalition to continue. The so-called "Super Sunday" is largely billed as a referendum on Merkel's open door policy towards refugees, which saw more than a million people arrive in Germany last year. The policy has proven divisive, both among the German public and within Merkel's CDU. The chancellor has rejected measures such as imposing a cap on new arrivals, favoring instead a plan to distribute refugees across the 28 European Union member states. CDU in trouble? Pre-election surveys had suggested the CDU and its coalition partner, the SPD, could take a hit across the board, while the right-wing populist Alternative for Germany (AfD) was expected to win seats in all three states. In its traditional support base, the southwestern state of Baden-Württemberg, the CDU appeared set to lose to the Greens, with support for the party dropping by around 10 points to 29 percent. Meanwhile, the AfD had an 11 percent approval rating. Guido Wolf, the CDU's leading candidate in the southwest, said this year's election campaign was the "most difficult" the party has had to run. AfD surge in support The AfD leader Frauke Petry told German public radio that her party is not expecting to enter government in any of the three states. "We have been set to work from the opposition since long before this election," she said, adding that this position was quite normal for a young party. "This election shows that numerous voters are turning their backs on well-established parties," she said. The populist right-wing AfD campaigned on an anti-immigration platform, and has sought to scoop support from voters disillusioned with the Merkel government's stance on refugees. In comments that provoked an international outcry, the party's leader Frauke Petry suggested earlier this year that police should fire at refugees "as a last resort," to prevent unregistered asylum seekers entering the country. Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere meanwhile had cautioned voters against backing the AfD, saying its call to close the borders "harms our country." "The AfD has no political concept and no competence in terms of finding solutions" to Germany's problems, he told "Die Welt" newspaper.

Official results show significant success for the populist right-wing AfD in three key state elections. Chancellor Merkel’s CDU saw losses in two out of three states; attributed to her refugee policies. The right-leaning AfD managed to enter all three state parliaments, winning double-digit percentage results in Baden-Württemberg, Rhineland-Palatinate and Saxony-Anhalt, according to official results. More than 12 million Germans were ... Read More »

Merkel urges EU-wide solution to refugee crisis

Migrants have no right to choose the country in which they claim asylum, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said after meeting the Croatian PM. The chancellor once again called for a joint solution to the refugee crisis. The EU should reinstate the Schengen free travel zone as soon as possible, and find a joint solution for the migrant build-up in Greece, Merkel said on Tuesday after talking to Croatian Prime Minister Tihomir Oreskovic in Berlin. At the same time, Merkel urged EU countries to end the practice of "waving (migrants) through." Thousands of migrants stranded at the Greek-Macedonian border need to use the systems the EU had set up to process migrants in Greece, she said. "There is actually no right that a refugee can say 'I want to receive asylum in this specific EU state'," according to Merkel. No Budapest rerun Some observers have drawn parallels between the latest developments in Greece and last year's crisis in Hungary, when the Hungarian government decided to close the main train station in Budapest. The move also left some 25,000 migrants stranded, prompting Berlin to intervene. In the end, they were allowed passage to Austria and Germany. Asked if Berlin would intervene again, the chancellor said that the two situations were not comparable, pointing to EU efforts to create migrant infrastructure in Greece. She also urged Greece to protect its borders and other EU countries to accept their part of newcomers. Zagreb wants an EU solution Croatia might deploy the army to manage the wave of refugees, if the migrants attempt to cross its territory on their way to northern Europe, according to Oreskovic. "If it becomes necessary to use the army, we will activate that option. It would be an assistance in easing procedure," he said in Berlin. However, the EU member would continue to "treat refugees humanely" and seek a joint European solution, he said. A number of countries along the so-called "Balkan route," including Croatia, announced refugee quotas last week in an attempt to stem the migrant flow. The move caused a dramatic build up at the border between Macedonia and Greece, with some officials warning that the number of stranded migrants could reach 70,000 in the coming weeks. EU nations and Turkey are set to discuss the issue at a special summit next Monday.

Migrants have no right to choose the country in which they claim asylum, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said after meeting the Croatian PM. The chancellor once again called for a joint solution to the refugee crisis. The EU should reinstate the Schengen free travel zone as soon as possible, and find a joint solution for the migrant build-up in Greece, ... Read More »

Greek PM Tsipras threatens to block EU refugee decisions if left alone in crisis

Greek PM Alexis Tsipras has said he will block all EU migrant decisions if his country has to deal with the crisis alone. His comments come as Austria and West Balkan states decide to tighten their borders to migrants. Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has said he will block all decisions at an upcoming EU migration summit if his country has to deal with the refugee crisis alone. Tsipras said that from now on Greece "will not assent to agreements" unless all its EU partners are forced to participate in the relocation and resettlement of refugees. "Greece will not agree to deals [in the EU] if a mandatory allocation of burdens and responsibilities among member countries is not secured," he added. "We will not accept turning the country into a permanent warehouse of souls with Europe continuing to function as if nothing is happening," Tsipras told the Greek parliament on Wednesday. Hundreds of Afghans are currently stranded in Greece after Macedonia decided to close its borders to refugees earlier this week. Tsipras said it was unfair that EU partners had dumped the burden of the migrants on Greece, a country already reeling from an economic crisis. "We did and will continue to do everything we can to provide warmth, essential help and security to uprooted, hounded people," he said, adding that Athens would not accept a situation where EU member states could do as they pleased. 'We will not tolerate fences and walls' The Greek prime minister's comments came as Austria and nine other countries met for a West Balkan conference on Wednesday, after individually deciding to restrict the flow of refugees into their countries. Neither Greece nor Germany was invited to the summit. "We will not tolerate that a number of countries will be building fences and walls at the borders without accepting even a single refugee" Tsipras said, adding that his country would demand the mandatory participation of EU countries in the relocation of refugees. Tsipras also said he would meet leaders from Greece's political parties to discuss tackling the number of migrants stranded in the country. EU leaders are scheduled to meet next week to fix plans on resolving the crisis. Earlier Wednesday, Tsipras also spoke with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and agreed on a stronger crackdown on human smugglers in the Aegean Sea to reduce the migrant flow.

Greek PM Alexis Tsipras has said he will block all EU migrant decisions if his country has to deal with the crisis alone. His comments come as Austria and West Balkan states decide to tighten their borders to migrants. Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has said he will block all decisions at an upcoming EU migration summit if his country ... Read More »

Planned refugee shelter in eastern German town of Bautzen set on fire

A planned home for asylum seekers has been burnt down in Germany's Saxony state. Police reported onlookers cheering at the burning building and preventing the fire brigade from doing its work. A building meant to house refugees in Bautzen in Saxony caught fire on Saturday night, local officials said. The structure, known as the "Husarenhof," was originally a hotel and was being modified to shelter asylum seekers. No one was hurt. Local German public broadcaster MDR tweeted this picture: Local police said they were still searching for reasons why the fire broke out. The criminal investigation department and a group specializing in right-wing crime were looking at possible reasons, police said. Officials also reported that locals in Bautzen cheered as the building burnt. "Some people reacted to the arson with derogatory comments and undisguised joy," police said in a statement. Some onlookers were under the influence of alcohol, they added. Several people present in the scene hindered fire officials from carrying out their work. Three people were expelled from the area and two were taken into police custody after they did not heed warnings, officials said. Hate crimes on the rise The incident in Bautzen comes shortly after a mob shouting anti-migrant slogans blocked a bus full of refugees in Clausnitz, also in Saxony. Saxony's Chief Minister Stanislaw Tillich condemned the incident in the two towns as "disgusting and hateful." Nearly 1 million asylum seekers fleeing conflict and poverty in Africa and Asia have arrived in the country last year. Public response has been largely positive, but possible migrant involvement in cases of sexual assault and a perceived threat to German culture has spurred resentment in some quarters. There were more than 1,000 arson attacks on planned and completed refugee shelters across Germany in 2015.

A planned home for asylum seekers has been burnt down in Germany’s Saxony state. Police reported onlookers cheering at the burning building and preventing the fire brigade from doing its work. A building meant to house refugees in Bautzen in Saxony caught fire on Saturday night, local officials said. The structure, known as the “Husarenhof,” was originally a hotel and ... Read More »

Sweden prepares to expel up to 80,000 migrants

Sweden plans to remove tens of thousands of asylum seekers out of the country, according to the interior minister. This measure would only apply to people whose applications had been rejected. The government has asked the police and migration officials to organize the expulsion, Interior Minister Anders Ygeman said on Wednesday. "We are talking about 60,000 people but the number could climb to 80,000," the minister was quoted in the "Dagens Industri" newspaper as saying. Ygeman added that only migrants who arrived last year, applied for asylum and were denied, would be sent home. Sweden received some 160,000 migrants in 2015 , and has taken in more refugees per capita than any other EU country.The government estimates that around 45 percent of all asylum requests were rejected. Risk of refugees going underground The government intends to create good conditions for the migrants to volunteer for deportation, according to Ygeman's comments. "The initial action is to get to a voluntary return and create the conditions for it. But we can not stay there, we need a return by means of coercion," he said. Also, the authorities would need to use specially chartered aircrafts due to large numbers of asylum seekers, said Ygeman. The move is a "great challenge" for the Scandinavian country, and there is a "significant risk" that many migrant groups would go underground to avoid deportation, according to the government. To counter this development, the police are boosting their border control department and increasing the number of checks. The flow of refugees to Europe continues despite cold weather. The UN says more than 46,000 people have arrived in Greece since the beginning of January, with more than 170 refugees dying during the dangerous sea voyage.

Sweden plans to remove tens of thousands of asylum seekers out of the country, according to the interior minister. This measure would only apply to people whose applications had been rejected. The government has asked the police and migration officials to organize the expulsion, Interior Minister Anders Ygeman said on Wednesday. “We are talking about 60,000 people but the number ... Read More »

Merkel’s response to migration crisis in focus at CDU party congress

Angela Merkel is due to address her party, the Christian Democratic Union, at their annual conference. Her speech will be scrutinized as she faces criticism from within the CDU over her handling of an influx of migrants. The German chancellor and CDU party leader is due to take to the podium shortly after 11a.m. (100UTC) on Monday. There, in the southern German city of Karlsruhe, she will face her in-party critics as she addresses a defining issue of her tenure as chancellor: the refugee crisis. Ahead of Monday’s party conference, the buzzword in Karlsruhe has beem "Obergrenze" or an "upper limit" on the number of people granted asylum - something which the CDU's Bavarian sister party, the Christian Social Union (CDU), has repeatedly called for in recent months. CSU party leader Horst Seehofer has described Merkel’s policy of not capping the number of refugees in Germany as "a mistake." Compromise of 'effective measures' The chancellor has repeatedly rejected calls from CSU leaders, however, resulting in ructions within the Union. Speaking at the CSU conference in Munich last month, Merkel described the arrival of hundreds of thousands of refugees as "perhaps the biggest challenge we have had since German unification." In an interview with German broadcaster ZDF on the eve of the party conference, however, Merkel confirmed reports that the CDU executive had agreed on a compromise formulation. The resolution, which is due to be submitted to the party's delegates on Monday, states that the CDU is determined to reduce the arrival of asylum seekers and refugees through "effective measures" that will not include setting a fixed limit on how many can come. "I’m very pleased that the foundations, which I consider to be relevant to the question of asylum policy, have been confirmed," Merkel told ZDF, adding that the resolution focuses on combating the causes of flight, protecting external European Union (EU) borders and finding a European solution. At a press conference late on Sunday, General Secretary of the CDU, Peter Tauber, supported his party leader's commitment to her asylum policy, insisting that Merkel’s famous "we can do this"-attitude was still valid if "everyone makes the effort." One millionth asylum seeker registered In recent weeks, the number of asylum seekers crossing the German border has reached 10,000 a day. According to Germany’s national refugee database, the one millionth migrant to arrive in Germany was registered in Bavaria at midday on Tuesday. Critics claim, however that there are already far more, with some avoiding the authorities and others caught in a backlog of paperwork. As an interim measure to reduce the huge influx of refugees to Germany, countries such as Albania and Serbia have already been declared "safe," in a bid to allow authorities to deport them more quickly back to their countries of origin. Prior to Monday’s party conference, the CDU’s youth wing (JU) said it still hoped to renew its proposal for a cap on the number of refugees in Germany. JU leader, Paul Ziemiak, said at last month’s CSU party conference in Munich, "The refugee crisis is the greatest challenge of our time." Public majority in favor of limit According to opinion polls, it would appear that Ziemiak is not alone. A recent survey by pollsters Emnid for the "Bild am Sonntag" newspaper found that 62 percent of Germans wanted a fixed upper limit, with 36 percent opposed. On the eve of the CDU party conference, the proposed limit on refugees remained a talking point for locals in the congress' host town, as they gathered at a local Christmas market. "At the moment I would definitely support a limit," 64-year-old Mrs. Coombes told DW, adding that the government should reassess the situation in the future. "We already have a challenge ahead of us, as we need to successfully integrate the refugees into Germany," Coombes said. Despite the controversy over the Chancellor's handling of the refugee crisis, the pensioner said she still supported Merkel. Business student Hauke Kaufmann opposed the limit, however. "What other choice do these people have?" he asked. "People need to remember why these refugees are coming here. They’re not economic migrants," the 26-year-old said, insisting at the same time that the rest of the European Union (EU) still needed to step up their efforts in taking in more refugees. As Merkel vies for the confidence of her party and voters on Monday, however, the focus will not be on the efforts of Europe, but on those of the German chancellor.

Angela Merkel is due to address her party, the Christian Democratic Union, at their annual conference. Her speech will be scrutinized as she faces criticism from within the CDU over her handling of an influx of migrants. The German chancellor and CDU party leader is due to take to the podium shortly after 11a.m. (100UTC) on Monday. There, in the ... Read More »

Scroll To Top