Global Analysis from the European Perspective. Preparing for the world of tomorrow

Angel Merkels change from Hitlers revenant to the holy mother of the migrants

Is the tide finally turning from fighting the symptoms to treating the cause?

The migrants that are fleeing in from the Balkan, the Middle East and Africa did not come as a huge surprise for the European politicians. For many years now are millions of people fleeing their homes.  But so far, practical enough for Europe, the refugees were seeking rescue in their neighboring countries. Relatively few people succeeded in reaching the northern African countries to cross to Europe from there or to try to make a rush for the fences of Melilla or Ceuta. The EU in its effort to build “Fortress Europe” even went so far as to associate with dictator Muammar Gaddafi, with whom they agreed on building and funding refugee camps in the Libyan Sahara.

In particular Germany’s asylum law reform in 1993 did not intend to fight the cause for flight, but was solely directed towards keeping refugees far from its soil. The concept for the now infamous Dublin Convention, according to which refugees have to seek asylum in the country where they have entered the EU, has been developed in the German Ministry of Interior. However it did not come out of nowhere and was not the master plan of some evil minded person. It is built on the principles of the Geneva Convention, that states that people who are being persecuted in their own country by their own government are entitled to the protection of the international community –  but not of a particular country of their choice. It is an absolute reasonable argument that once a person arrived in a safe country, protection must be granted in this county. This is the principal idea on which the German asylum law and the Dublin Convention are based. Thus, the now decried concept of ‘safe third country’ was born. With the consistent implementation of this concept and thanks to the reformed asylum law, the number of asylum seekers in Germany could be driven down from a peak of over 400.000 applicants in 1993 to only 19.000 in 2007. 

With the invasion of Iraq and the increasing destabilization of the region up to the outbreak of the Syrian civil war, the collapse of the system was inevitable. The land route through Turkey and the short sea route to the Greek Islands were impossible to survey. It was only a matter of time until the refugees would find their way to Germany. However politicians in Germany put their head in the sand and hoped the storm would leave them untouched. But the refugees came: First in small groups that found their way from the island of Lampedusa through the Italian and Austrian mountains.  Then more and more refugees started their journey,  tired of living in the huge refugee camps in Lebanon and Jordan without any prospects for the future. Merkel did what she does best: saying nothing, maneuvering and giving off non-binding statements. In June, so, almost unbelivable, just three months ago, she, the soon-to-be  mother of the  refugees, caused a PR meltdown: On her so called “Dialogue with the citizens” publicity tour, a 12 year old Palestinian girl took the word. The girl, who had only lived in Germany for four years, told the Chancellor in perfect German of their fear of deportation, their desire for a secure life in Germany and their hope of being able to go to university, just like her friends in school, showing her intelligence, ambition and perfect level of integration, in other words, that to have her living here was a great asset for Germany. The chancellor replied stone cold that she would have to go back in any case, and that politics was sometimes tough.

That was heartless, cruel and even legally and politically incorrect. The German law for foreigners provides the possibility for the administrations to grant a legal status of residence in order to avoid hardship. It applies in particular to well integrated families. If Merkel’s heart were as big as she now pretends and Germany as friendly as she claims, she would have taken the opportunity to state the following: “It may be that you have no legal claim under the German law to stay and live your life’s here as you dream of. However you are such an enrichment for Germany, that we would be crazy to send you back. I am promising you that you will be able to stay in Germany! There is most probably already a law that will cover your case and entitle the competent administration to grant you a status, and if not, I, as head of the German government, can always submit a draft law to the Parliament that will cover your case. So let me tell you this here and today – welcome in Germany”. But this is not what she said and she showed then her true soul and her true attitude.

 But the the summer came and  the influx of refugees rose so high that the levees broke. Even though there had been some protests and demonstrations against the accommodation of refugees, it became evident that there was in general a positive attitude towards the refugees. The arrival of the asylum seekers was not seen as a threat but as a challenge, not as a burden but as an enrichment. It may have played a huge role that the media reported that the refugees were skilled doctors, engineers and entrepreneurs that, according to entrepreneurial propaganda, Germany was desperately in need of.  Which is nonsense. The truth is that German enterprises want skilled workers for a salary that barely pays the rent. So the refugees would be welcome as skilled and cheap labour, promising huge returns for German corporations.

So Merkel did what she always does. If there is a trend she can not control, she takes its lead. She, who had been so heartless to the Palestinian girl, declared that “German can handle the challenge” and instructed the competent authority to suspend the Dublin Convention. In the Middle East, the message that “mother Merkel” is welcoming the refugees with open arms, was received with utter joy. Refugees were flocking in so massively via Hungary and Austria to Munich that the German Minister of the Interior reinstated controls at the Bavarian-Austrian border – a slap in the face of the European Union, whose biggest achievement had been to abolish internal border controls. But these border controls are everything but efficient, people are not deterred and cannot be returned to Austria. It is not about stopping the refugees, it is about sending the message that refugees are no longer welcome in Germany, it is a desperate attempt to stop the migration from the Middle East. All this has absolutely nothing to do with anything   close to strategy or policy, it is just series of mindless acts, followed by panic. Germany and Europe are now facing the shambles of their polices and an immigration wave of an extent that no one can estimate, neither politically, nor financially,  nor economically.

Decades of desastrous German and European policies are taking its revenge. Not only are we not fighting the flight causes; we aggravate them by our arms exports in war and crisis regions, by our participating in the American destabilization policy of the Middle East and North Africa, by tolerating land grabbing of western agribusiness, by emptying the fishing grounds before the African coasts with our industrial fishing policy and by subsidizing European agricultural exports which ruin local farmers.


The short and medium term prospects are far from positive:  Millions of people are on the run and their destination is Europe. Fortress Europe has fallen and new defensive walls can’t be built so fast.  Europe is forced to take many of the refugees in, the big majority of them permanently. If their integrations fails, political profits for xenophobic and right wing parties will be huge and endanger our democratic system. But in order to finish on a positive note: Even this crisis has its upside. It is now evident that we cannot afford our amoral and exploitative policies anymore. So far, we were not mature enough to pursue a responsible and ethical policy for its own sake. Now the current disaster will force us to adopt a more responsible and sustainable policy.

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