Spitfire List Web site and blog of anti-fascist researcher and radio personality Dave Emory.

For The Record  

FTR #864 Interview with Peter Levenda about “Ratline” and Other Books

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This pro­gram was record­ed in one, 60-minute seg­ment.

Intro­duc­tion: Sup­ple­ment­ing pre­vi­ous dis­cus­sions with Peter Lev­en­da about his land­mark book The Hitler Lega­cy, we once again speak with Peter about his work, focus­ing pri­mar­i­ly on his “pre­quel,” Rat­line.

Immi­gra­tion has dom­i­nat­ed the news recent­ly, with the flood of refugees from the wars in the Mid­dle East over­whelm­ing Euro­pean infra­struc­ture as the phe­nom­e­non dom­i­nates polit­i­cal debate and Don­ald Trump cap­i­tal­izes on anti-immi­grant xeno­pho­bia to lead the field of pre­sump­tive GOP Pres­i­den­tial can­di­dates. In The Hitler Lega­cyPeter not­ed anti-immi­grant sen­ti­ment and xeno­pho­bia as part of “The Hitler Lega­cy.”

Fear of “the oth­er” has been a sta­ple of fas­cist thought and is dom­i­nat­ing much of the polit­i­cal dis­course on both sides of the Atlantic.

Turn­ing to what might be described as the “pre­quel” to The Hitler Lega­cy, we high­light Rat­line. Deal­ing with the sto­ry of the mys­te­ri­ous Dr. Anton Poch, we ana­lyze the dis­ap­pear­ance of Adolf Hitler.

When one dis­cuss­es Hitler’s escape at the end of the war, one is gen­er­al­ly viewed as aberrant–a con­spir­a­cy nut. Peter high­lights the curi­ous behav­ior of the Sovi­ets with regard to Hitler’s corpse–burying and rebury­ing “Hitler’s remains” time and again in the months fol­low­ing V‑E Day.

Even­tu­al­ly, the remains were sci­en­tif­i­cal­ly proved NOT to be those of Hitler, which calls into ques­tion the motive for Sovi­et behav­ior and the behav­ior of the Allies in the after­math of the war.

The offi­cial ver­sion of Hitler’s death is The Last Days of Hitler by Hugh Trevor-Rop­er. Trevor-Rop­er was an agent for MI6 (British intel­li­gence) at the time and the writ­ing and pub­li­ca­tion of his book was, in and of itself, an intel­li­gence operation–a “psy-op” called Oper­a­tion Nurs­ery.

This sets the back­ground against which the mys­te­ri­ous Dr. Anton Poch’s sit­u­a­tion must be eval­u­at­ed. (We dis­cuss Poch in FTR #‘s 845846.)

It was craft­ed to coun­ter­act Sovi­et charges that Hitler was alive and had gone over to the West, an alle­ga­tion but­tressed by infor­ma­tion in Grey Wolf: The Escape of Adolf Hitler.

Pro­gram High­lights Include:

  • Analy­sis of the flight of the mys­te­ri­ous Dr. Poch.
  • Review of Father Draganovic and the sig­nif­i­cance of his pres­ence in the jour­nal of Dr. Poch.
  • Com­par­i­son of Oper­a­tion Nurs­ery with the War­ren Report.
  • Dis­cus­sion of Paul Lev­erkuhn, a Nazi spy who was the head of the Euro­pean Union when he attend­ed the first Bilder­berg meet­ing.
  • Mr. Emory’s dis­cus­sion of the term “migrant” to describe the des­per­ate polit­i­cal refugees flood­ing into Europe. It is xeno­pho­bic, as though some sort of wan­der­ing par­a­sites were being described, not peo­ple flee­ing for their lives.

1. Immi­gra­tion has dom­i­nat­ed the news recent­ly, with the flood of refugees from the wars in the Mid­dle East over­whelm­ing Euro­pean infra­struc­ture as the phe­nom­e­non dom­i­nates polit­i­cal debate and Don­ald Trump cap­i­tal­izes on anti-immi­grant xeno­pho­bia to lead the field of pre­sump­tive GOP Pres­i­den­tial can­di­dates.

In The Hitler Lega­cy, Peter not­ed anti-immi­grant sen­ti­ment and xeno­pho­bia as part of “The Hitler Lega­cy.”

The Hitler Lega­cy by Peter Lev­en­da; IBIS Press [HC]; Copy­right 2014 by Peter Lev­en­da; ISBN 978–0‑89254–210‑9; p. 315.

. . . Xeno­pho­bia is at an all-time high in Europe and increas­ing­ly in Amer­i­ca. The Inter­net has pro­vid­ed new and improved means of com­mu­ni­ca­tion. . . .

As the polit­i­cal life of every coun­try becomes more and more polar­ized between “right” and “left,” the men of ODESSA can only laugh at our dis­com­fort. . . .

2. Under­scor­ing the Nazi roots of the EU and EMU, we review the pres­ence of Third Reich alum­nus and spy Paul Lev­erkuhn, who became head of the EU in the ear­ly 1950’s.

Rat­line: Sovi­et Spies, Nazi Priests and the Dis­ap­pear­ance of Adolf Hitler by Peter Lev­en­da; Ibis Press [HC]; Copy­right 2012 by Peter Lev­en­da; ISBN 978–0‑89254–170‑6; pp. 160–161.

. . . . Paul Lev­erkuhn (1893–1960)–a life­long diplo­mat, spy, and banker, Lev­erkuhn was also a devot­ed Nazi who joined the Par­ty before the war began and who held var­i­ous impor­tant posts in Ger­many dur­ing both World Wars. He had an exten­sive back­ground run­ning Abwehr oper­a­tions in Turkey, and accord­ing to the CIA report ref­er­enced above he also ran a spy net­work after the war “based on Lebanon and extend­ing into the Mid­dle East.” Lev­erkuhn for the ben­e­fit of those with a con­spir­a­to­r­i­al frame of mind, was also in atten­dance at the very first Bilder­berg­er meet­ing in 1954as pres­i­dent of the Euro­pean Union [!–D.E.]. It should be point­ed out that this meet­ing took place four years before the CIA report was writ­ten claim­ing that Lev­erkuhn was run­ning agents in the Mid­dle East. . . .

3. Next, Peter reviews the bizarre han­dling of “Hitler’s corpse” by the Sovi­et secu­ri­ty ser­vices over the years and the proof that the remains were NOT those of Hitler.

4. Before delv­ing into the sub­stance of Rat­line, we briefly touch on the work­ing hypoth­e­sis of “Grey Wolf,” the focal point of FTR #791. The authors posit that the key play­ers in the real­iza­tion of Aktion Feurland–the code-name for the oper­a­tion facil­i­tat­ing Hitler’s escape–were Allen Dulles on the Allied side and Mar­tin Bor­mann for the Third Reich. Cen­tered on a quid pro quo arrange­ment, the authors hypoth­e­size that Aktion Feur­land involved the trans­fer of Nazi tech­nol­o­gy to the U.S. and the West (known as Project Paper­clip) and the sav­ing of price­less works of art from destruc­tion.

In that con­text, we note that thou­sands of doc­u­ments on both sides of the Atlantic deal­ing with Hitler’s post­war where­abouts are still clas­si­fied!

Grey Wolf: The Escape of Adolf Hitler by Simon Dun­stan and Ger­rard Williams; Ster­ling [HC]; Copy­right 2011 by Simon Dun­stan, Ger­rard Williams and Spit­fire Recov­ery Ltd.; ISBN 978–1‑4027–8139‑1; p. 242.

. . . . Dur­ing this peri­od [the late 1940’s], the FBI was tak­ing reports of Hitler being in Latin Amer­i­ca very seri­ous­ly. Thou­sands of doc­u­ments per­tain­ing to Hitler from these years are  still clas­si­fied as Top Secret on both sides of the Atlantic; nev­er­the­less, and despite the very heavy cen­sor­ship of the few files released into the pub­lic domain, some infor­ma­tion can be gleaned. . . .

 5. The offi­cial ver­sion of Hitler’s death is The Last Days of Hitler by Hugh Trevor-Rop­er. Trevor-Rop­er was an agent for MI6 (British intel­li­gence) at the time and the writ­ing and pub­li­ca­tion of his book was, in and of itself, an intel­li­gence operation–a “psy-op” called Oper­a­tion Nurs­ery.

It was craft­ed to coun­ter­act Sovi­et charges that Hitler was alive and had gone over to the West (the pos­si­bil­i­ty that Sovi­et intel­li­gence may have known of Aktion Feur­land is some­thing to be con­tem­plat­ed.

Rat­line: Sovi­et Spies, Nazi Priests and the Dis­ap­pear­ance of Adolf Hitler by Peter Lev­en­da; Ibis Press [HC]; Copy­right 2012 by Peter Lev­en­da; ISBN 978–0‑89254–170‑6; pp. 23–25.

A British intel­li­gence offi­cer, Hugh ˇTrevor-Rop­er (1914–2003) craft­ed the nar­ra­tive con­cern­ing Hitler’s ulti­mate fate, begin­ning in Sep­tem­ber 1945 on a mission–called Oper­a­tion Nursery–from the Secret Intel­li­gence Ser­vice, or MI6. This intel­li­gence oper­a­tion is the source of the sto­ry we have all been told since then. It is the author­i­ta­tive ver­sion. It is based on a hand­ful of inter­views with for­mer mem­bers of Hitler’s per­son­al stuff, only some of whom served in the bunker up until the fall of Berlin in May, 1945. This even­tu­al­ly became Trevor-Roper’s best-welling book enti­tled The Last Days of Hitler. It stands today as the defin­i­tive account of Hitler’s alleged sui­cide, even though there are bare­ly thir­ty-live pages in the orig­i­nal edi­tion that deal direct­ly with the death itself. The rea­son for this is sim­ple: there was no foren­sic evi­dence to work from. There were only state­ments of eye­wit­ness­es, all of whom were Nazis and most of whom were in the SS. . . .

. . . . If one were to take all the tes­ti­mo­ny of all of the wit­ness­es who have since writ­ten books or who have left behind tran­scripts of their inter­ro­ga­tions by British, Amer­i­can and Russ­ian intel­li­gence offi­cers, and com­pared them to each oth­er we would soon begin to real­ize that there is vir­tu­al­ly no con­sen­sus on crit­i­cal points of the sto­ry. . . .

. . . . Whom to believe? Which ver­sion is real­ly author­i­ta­tive?

That depends on the agen­da you wish to pro­mote. His­to­ry was being writ­ten by the vic­tors to sat­is­fy intel­li­gence objec­tives and not to illu­mi­nate this dark mat­ter of defeat and vio­lent death. This was war, and the Allied forces were them­selves about to dis­cov­er that their respec­tive agen­das did not match. The Sovi­ets had one set of goals in mind at the end of the con­flict, and the Amer­i­cans anoth­er. And the British anoth­er still. . . .

. . . . The choice of Trevor-Rop­er for the polit­i­cal­ly-sen­si­tive task of deter­min­ing Hitler’s fate would seem curi­ous if not for the fact that his supe­ri­or, Brigadier Dick White (lat­er to become direc­tor of MI6), intend­ed that a nar­ra­tive be craft­ed that would counter the effects of Sovi­et insis­tence that Hitler was still alive. What was required ws not the ser­vices of a lawyer or a sci­en­tist build­ing a legal case from evi­dence but the ser­vices of some­one who could build a his­tor­i­cal text from odd bits of doc­u­ments and dubi­ous tes­ti­mo­ny, hob­bled togeth­er with an eye towards pre­sent­ing a sin­gle point of view. In oth­er words, the mis­sion objec­tive of Trevor-Rop­er in Oper­a­tion Nurs­ery was a fore­gone one: to dis­prove Sovi­et state­ments that Hitler was still alive. Thus, it had to begin with the premise (pre­sent­ed as fact) that Hitler was dead and had com­mit­ted sui­cide in the bunker on April 30, 1945, and then be worked back­ward from there. No oth­er inter­pre­ta­tion or pre­sen­ta­tion was accept­able. All he had to do was to col­lect enough “eye­wit­ness” testimony–in Ger­man, a lan­guage he did not understand–that sup­port­ed (or at least did not con­tra­dict) this ver­sion of evens, and com­pile them into a neat sto­ry that tied togeth­er all the loose ends that then would stand as the offi­cial ver­sion. The offi­cial British ver­sion. . . .

6. We briefly note a com­par­i­son of “Oper­a­tion Nurs­ery” with the War­ren Report and the Com­mis­sion that craft­ed it (Allen Dulles and John J. McCloy being part of the com­mis­sion. CORRECTION: Win­nack­er did not write the War­ren Report, appar­ent­ly.

7. Return­ing to a sub­ject cov­ered in FTR #‘s 845, 846, we briefly review the flight of the “Pochs” and the remark­able occur­rences that tran­spired in Indone­sia sur­round­ing Poch/Hitler.

 

 

 

 

Discussion

9 comments for “FTR #864 Interview with Peter Levenda about “Ratline” and Other Books”

  1. Fol­low­ing Croa­t­i­a’s dec­la­ra­tion that it could no longer take any refugees last week, the gov­ern­ment is now demand­ing that Greece stop allow­ing “migrants” (who just hap­pen to be flee­ing for their lives) to leave Greece’s refugee camps that Greece already can’t afford. It’s the lat­est unpleas­ant, if unsur­pris­ing, devel­op­ment in this mega-dis­as­ter. The longer you play twist­ed games, like ‘refugee hot pota­to’, the more every­one’s tem­pers flare...:

    Reuters
    Croa­t­ia says wants Greece to stop send­ing migrants to rest of Europe

    OPATOVAC, Croa­t­ia | By Alek­san­dar Vaso­vic

    Mon Sep 21, 2015 11:22am EDT

    Croa­t­ia will demand that Greece stop mov­ing migrants from the Mid­dle East on to the rest of Europe, Inte­ri­or Min­is­ter Ranko Osto­jic said on Mon­day.

    EU inte­ri­or min­is­ters are to meet on Tues­day in an attempt to find a solu­tion to Europe’s biggest migrant cri­sis since World War Two, with almost half a mil­lion asy­lum seek­ers reach­ing its ter­ri­to­ry this year.

    “The flow of migrants from Greece must be stopped. I will seek that at tomor­row’s meet­ing of EU inte­ri­or min­is­ters,” Osto­jic told reporters at the Opa­to­vac camp where migrants are being housed near the east­ern town of Tovarnik.

    “It is absolute­ly unac­cept­able to have Greece emp­ty­ing its refugee camps and send­ing peo­ple towards Croa­t­ia via Mace­do­nia and Ser­bia,” Osto­jic added.

    Around 29,000 peo­ple, most­ly from Syr­ia, have arrived in Croa­t­ia from Ser­bia in the past week after trekking north­wards through the Balka­ns from Greece en route to wealth­i­er coun­try in the west and north of the Euro­pean Union. Croa­t­ia is a mem­ber of the EU but not part of its Schen­gen zone of bor­der­less trav­el.

    Greece has been the first point of entry to the EU for many migrants as it bor­ders Turkey, to which mil­lions have fled from wars in neigh­bor­ing Syr­ia and Iraq, but says it can­not cope with the influx giv­en its small size and severe finan­cial woes.

    An offi­cial of the U.N. refugee agency, UNHCR, told Reuters there were cur­rent­ly around 2,000 peo­ple inside the Opa­to­vac camp, a fenced for­mer indus­tri­al plant where around 150 olive-col­ored, mil­i­tary-style tents have been set up.

    “On the aver­age there are around 100 peo­ple enter­ing (Croa­t­ia) per hour,” UNHCR spokesman Babar Baloch said.

    ...

    “This is good...we will rest here and will go to Fin­land from here,” said Osama, a refugee from the Iraqi city of Mosul.” He had trav­elled with three cousins for more than four weeks. “We have no mon­ey, that’s why we trav­el slow, we walked a lot.”

    Asked why he was head­ed to Fin­land, Osama replied: “It is far away from Iraq and the Islam­ic State (insur­gents); no war there”. Islam­ic State cap­tured Mosul in June 2014.

    So Croa­t­ia has moved solid­ly into the “get off my lawn!” camp as Europe and the world con­tin­ues flail­ing in the face of one of the most high­ly pre­dictable human­i­tar­i­an crises we’ve seen in years. How this gets resolved is unclear, but it’s worth not­ing that even if Greece had the resources to pre­vent the refugees from leav­ing Greece, that prob­a­bly would­n’t be a good or humane idea unless Greece was also giv­en the resources to build them refugee camps that aren’t hor­ri­bly under-resourced and over-crowd­ed on islands not near­ly large enough to hold them all and only a short boat ride from the 2 mil­lion Syr­i­an refugees in Turkey:

    Reuters
    UPDATE 2‑Greece seeks EU aid as it strug­gles to cope with migrant cri­sis

    * Greece requests EU human­i­tar­i­an aid, staff

    * Min­is­ter says sit­u­a­tion “wretched” on Les­bos

    * Says more ships to bring refugees to Greek main­land (Adds quotes, details, res­cue oper­a­tion)

    By Karoli­na Tagaris
    Mon Sep 7, 2015 3:03pm EDT

    ATHENS, Sept 7 (Reuters) — Greece asked the Euro­pean Union for aid on Mon­day to pre­vent it being over­whelmed by refugees, as a min­is­ter said arrivals on Les­bos had swollen to three times as many as the island could han­dle.

    Its econ­o­my already stretched close to break­ing point, Greece is strug­gling to cope with thou­sands of peo­ple, main­ly from Syr­ia, flee­ing pover­ty and war.

    Inter­im Migra­tion Min­is­ter Yan­nis Mouza­las said 15,000 to 18,000 refugees were on Les­bos, an island he said could cope with 4,000–5,000. “The sit­u­a­tion is wretched,” he told state TV.

    Ten­sions have flared on the islands of Les­bos and Kos, short boat jour­neys from Turkey where there are some 2 mil­lion Syr­i­an refugees.

    The Inter­na­tion­al Res­cue Com­mit­tee said protests on the streets of Les­bos were putting the lives and safe­ty of refugees strand­ed on the island at risk.

    “We are tru­ly in the midst of a human­i­tar­i­an dis­as­ter,” said Kirk Day, the aid agen­cy’s field direc­tor on the island.

    He said many refugees had been stuck on the island for weeks, peo­ple were sleep­ing rough and hygiene was rapid­ly declin­ing.

    “None of these things can be addressed with this many peo­ple here ... The only way for­ward is to move these peo­ple off the island imme­di­ate­ly,” Day said.

    Greece ear­li­er asked the EU to acti­vate its cri­sis-response body to pro­vide staff, med­ical and phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal sup­plies, clothes and equip­ment, the Inte­ri­or Min­istry said.

    It has also applied to the EU Com­mis­sion for 9.6 mil­lion euros in emer­gency fund­ing to bol­ster exist­ing recep­tion oper­a­tions on the islands of Les­bos, Samos and Kos and in the Turk­ish bor­der region of Evros, and to help set up a new cen­tre on the island of Chios.

    The health min­istry said it had sent extra med­ical staff to Les­bos and Kos and extend­ed the oper­at­ing hours of health cen­tres on the islands.

    ...

    Ear­li­er on Mon­day, Greece request­ed that the EU civ­il pro­tec­tion mech­a­nism be acti­vat­ed “in order to sub­stan­tial­ly strength­en the efforts ... to man­age a volatile sit­u­a­tion”.

    The mech­a­nism coor­di­nates the bloc’s human­i­tar­i­an aid efforts, chan­nel­ing aid and send­ing spe­cial teams with equip­ment to dis­as­ter areas. It has pre­vi­ous­ly helped Greece fight for­est fires.
    On Fri­day, Euro­pean Com­mis­sion First Vice Pres­i­dent Frans Tim­mer­mans and Migra­tion Com­mis­sion­er Dim­itris Avramopou­los have already promised Athens 33 mil­lion euros ($36.8 mil­lion) to help it tack­le the cri­sis.

    As we can see, Greece isn’t exact­ly in a great posi­tion to deal with the tens of thou­sands of refugees already over­flow­ing its islands, let alone the 2 mil­lion Syr­i­an refugees in Turkey. And unless it gets some very seri­ous EU aid, it’s very unclear how Greece is going to be able to any­thing oth­er than the emer­gency man­age­ment it’s already doing.

    And as the arti­cle below points out, that EU assis­tance might be com­ing. But it may not be the kind of assis­tance Greece wants, as it has a rather ‘Troikan’ ring to it: Greece will get help form the EU man­ag­ing its board­ers pos­si­bly by hand­ing its bor­der respon­si­bil­i­ties over to the EU:

    The Finan­cial Times
    EU eyes big­ger role at Greece’s bor­ders to man­age refugee influx

    Peter Spiegel and Dun­can Robin­son in Brus­sels and James Poli­ti in Rome
    Sep­tem­ber 21, 2015 7:20 pm

    Greece’s new­ly re-elect­ed gov­ern­ment will come under intense pres­sure on Wednes­day to request wide-rang­ing EU aid to man­age a mas­sive influx of refugees, a move some offi­cials see as the first step towards ced­ing con­trol of its bor­ders to EU author­i­ties.

    The push will be made when Alex­is Tsipras attends a high-stakes sum­mit in Brus­sels, two days after being sworn in for a sec­ond term as prime min­is­ter. It is being sought by cen­tral and east­ern Euro­pean coun­tries demand­ing bet­ter con­trol of Greece’s bor­ders in return for sup­port­ing a plan to relo­cate 160,000 refugees.

    “What peo­ple are telling us is ‘we are ready to relo­cate [migrants], but we need a rock-sol­id sys­tem of reg­is­ter­ing them when they arrive’,” said one senior EU offi­cial involved in the talks.

    Greece, with its sprawl­ing islands and cash-strapped gov­ern­ment, has become the entry point tens of thou­sands of migrants to the EU from near­by Turkey and has failed to cope.

    How­ev­er, any move to trans­fer de fac­to con­trol of Greece’s bor­ders to Brus­sels could run into polit­i­cal resis­tance in Athens, where unpop­u­lar inter­na­tion­al bailouts have already aroused resent­ment of out­siders tram­pling on its sov­er­eign­ty. It is also unclear whether the EU insti­tu­tions would have the capac­i­ty to take on the task.

    Under Mr Tsipras’s pre­vi­ous gov­ern­ment, migra­tion pol­i­cy was almost an after­thought amid con­stant brinkman­ship over the country’s fis­cal cri­sis. But EU offi­cials are hope­ful that Athens will keep the inter­im gov­ern­men­t’s act­ing immi­gra­tion min­is­ter, Yian­nis Mouza­las, an expe­ri­enced hand at inter­na­tion­al crises who has worked close­ly with EU author­i­ties to try to re-estab­lish order in Greece’s islands.

    ...

    Fol­low­ing a tense EU sum­mit on migra­tion in June, Italy agreed to set up five “hot spots” at Ital­ian ports receiv­ing migrants, with EU offi­cials help­ing Ital­ian author­i­ties iden­ti­fy and process immi­grants.

    But the Ital­ian offi­cial said: “It’s not with two more peo­ple in Lampe­dusa that you resolve the prob­lem.” Italy and Greece have come under pres­sure from oth­er EU mem­ber states for allow­ing too many refugees to move north with­out being iden­ti­fied and fin­ger­print­ed, mak­ing it eas­i­er for them to suc­cess­ful­ly seek asy­lum in north­ern Euro­pean coun­tries. “For some coun­tries it’s a key issue,” the Ital­ian offi­cial said, adding that if it helped bring them around to the con­cept of “shared respon­si­bil­i­ty”, so be it.

    Greece’s inter­im gov­ern­ment issued a plea for Euro­pean help dur­ing a meet­ing of EU inte­ri­or min­is­ters last week. But the inter­im gov­ern­ment in Athens did not have the author­i­ty to reach a detailed agree­ment with Brus­sels on the scale and breadth of the assis­tance pro­gramme, which will now be left to Mr Tsipras to weigh.

    Plans for greater con­trol over Europe’s bor­ders have long been pushed by the Euro­pean Com­mis­sion, whose pres­i­dent Jean-Claude Junck­er called for a “ful­ly oper­a­tional Euro­pean bor­der and coast guard” in a speech ear­li­er this month.

    While the com­mis­sion is forg­ing ahead with the plan, some offi­cials are scep­ti­cal about how long it will take to set up such a body. “It took the Amer­i­cans 150 years to set up the FBI,” not­ed one diplo­mat.

    On Wednes­day, the com­mis­sion is set to cen­sure a host of coun­tries — includ­ing Greece and Italy — for fail­ing to process incom­ing migrants prop­er­ly, the same day that heads of gov­ern­ment arrive in Brus­sels for a hasti­ly arranged sum­mit on the refugee cri­sis.

    Could Greece, and maybe Italy, cede some bor­der con­trols while the EU sets up a new coast guard? And is this going to start apply­ing to all EU mem­bers? We’ll see but plans are cer­tain­ly in the works but anoth­er round of emer­gency pool­ing of nation­al sov­er­eign­ty might be about to take place for the EU. It will prob­a­bly be too lit­tle, too late giv­en the urgency of the sit­u­a­tion, but since this cri­sis does­n’t look like it’s going to end soon we could still see some sort of plan for a new EU coast guard in the Mediter­ranean emerge even­tu­al­ly.

    In relat­ed news, the Egypt­ian bil­lion­aire, Naguib Sawiris, has his “refugee nation” Greek island already picked out and if you want to own stock in his new island refugee nation, feel free to make a dona­tion:

    CNN
    Egypt­ian bil­lion­aire: I found the island I want to buy for refugees
    By Ivana Kot­ta­so

    An Egypt­ian bil­lion­aire’s offer to buy an island for refugees is clos­er to becom­ing real­i­ty.

    Naguib Sawiris, one of the region’s wealth­i­est men, said he has iden­ti­fied two pri­vate­ly owned Greek islands that would be well-suit­ed for the project. “We have cor­re­spond­ed with their own­ers and expressed our inter­est to go into nego­ti­a­tion with them,” Sawiris said in a state­ment.

    His idea to cre­ate a safe haven for the refugees was first brand­ed as ridicu­lous by some, but Sawiris said he has received “tons of expres­sions of inter­est” from poten­tial donors.

    “I’ll make a small port or mari­na for the boats to land there. I’ll employ the peo­ple to build their own homes, their schools, a hos­pi­tal, a uni­ver­si­ty, a hotel,” he said, adding he could employ between 100,000 and 200,000 refugees.

    Sawiris, the chief exec­u­tive of tele­com group Oras­com TMT, said he would name the place “Aylan Island,” in the mem­o­ry of the Syr­i­an tod­dler Aylan Kur­di, who drowned ear­li­er this month try­ing to reach Europe with his fam­i­ly.

    Pho­tos of his life­less body wash­ing ashore in Turkey sparked a wave of sol­i­dar­i­ty and out­rage over how Europe has been han­dling the refugee cri­sis. “It’s the pic­ture of Aylan that woke me up,” Sawiris told CNN. “I said — I can­not just sit like that and just do noth­ing, and pre­tend it’s not my prob­lem.”

    He is hop­ing to get more dona­tions towards the project by set­ting up a joint stock com­pa­ny with $100 mil­lion ini­tial cap­i­tal. “Any­one who will donate will get share in the com­pa­ny, thus becom­ing a part­ner in the island and in the project,” he said. “This way, any mon­ey put in will not be com­plete­ly lost, as the asset (the island) will remain,” he added.

    Sawiris said he is now seek­ing the Greek gov­ern­men­t’s per­mis­sion to go ahead with the project. Greek author­i­ties said they have yet to receive a for­mal request.

    Sawiris said he was also approached by the UN High Com­mis­sion­er for Refugees, the world’s lead­ing body help­ing refugees, in order to dis­cuss oth­er ways of pos­si­ble coop­er­a­tion.

    ...

    “Any­one who will donate will get share in the com­pa­ny, thus becom­ing a part­ner in the island and in the project...This way, any mon­ey put in will not be com­plete­ly lost, as the asset (the island) will remain.”

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | September 21, 2015, 6:23 pm
  2. One of the biggest ques­tions raised by all of the new fis­cal con­straints, like the Fis­cal Com­pact, that the euro­zone and larg­er EU has imposed on itself as part of the col­lec­tive response to Europe’s financial/debt cri­sis is how flex­i­ble will the bud­get rules actu­al­ly be in the face of a seri­ous human­i­tar­i­an emer­gency that requires a vio­la­tion of those bud­get rules.

    Con­sid­er­ing that the aus­ter­i­ty-dri­ven respons­es to the euro­zone cri­sis have, them­selves, cre­at­ed all sort of domes­tic human­i­tar­i­an crises with lit­tle sym­pa­thy from the pro-aus­ter­i­ty gov­ern­ments, it might be tempt­ing to assume that bud­get con­straints with win out over human­i­tar­i­an needs. But in the case of the cur­rent Syr­i­an refugee cri­sis which is far more severe, depri­or­i­tiz­ing human­i­tar­i­an con­cerns may not be so easy. The world is watch­ing. At the same, this is the New Europe we’re talk­ing about here, so where urgent human­i­tar­i­an needs fall with­in the hier­ar­chy of New Europe’s pri­or­i­ties is sort of an open ques­tion at this point:

    Reuters
    Bal­loon­ing refugee costs threat­en Ger­many’s cher­ished bud­get goals
    BERLIN | By Matthias Sobolews­ki
    Thu Sep 17, 2015 11:01am EDT

    The unex­pect­ed cost of look­ing after a record influx of refugees in Ger­many could scup­per Finance Min­is­ter Wolf­gang Schaeuble’s cher­ished goal of achiev­ing a bal­anced bud­get for the next five years, coali­tion sources said on Thurs­day.

    Ger­many is shoul­der­ing most of the bur­den of the con­ti­nen­t’s biggest refugee cri­sis since World War Two and expects at least 800,000 asy­lum seek­ers this year alone.

    But its gen­eros­i­ty comes at a cost. Local author­i­ties in Europe’s largest econ­o­my are clam­or­ing for cash to house, care for and inte­grate asy­lum seek­ers flee­ing wars in the Mid­dle East, Asia and Africa. Fed­er­al gov­ern­ment spend­ing on ben­e­fits is also like­ly to rise.

    There may also be a polit­i­cal cost. Chan­cel­lor Angela Merkel’s right-left coali­tion, which has preached fis­cal dis­ci­pline to euro zone coun­tries in the last five years, has promised to bal­ance the bud­get from this year through 2019.

    Schaeu­ble has even boast­ed about achiev­ing a ‘schwarze Null’ or black zero, mean­ing a bal­anced bud­get, for the first time since 1969 in 2014 — a year ear­li­er than planned — thanks to strong tax rev­enues and low inter­est rates.

    Berlin is on track to achieve this goal again this year but the long term aim of no new net bor­row­ing is at risk.

    ...

    No-one can put a fig­ure on the total cost of the refugee cri­sis but some experts think it could add up to around 9 bil­lion euros next year, espe­cial­ly if the num­ber of refugees exceeds cur­rent fore­casts, as seems like­ly.

    In addi­tion to 1 bil­lion euros put aside for 2015, coali­tion mem­bers say 6 bil­lion euros could be freed up next year.

    Half would go to fed­er­al states and local author­i­ties which are strug­gling to pro­vide basic care for peo­ple who have risked their lives in long jour­neys to Europe. The rest would help pay for wel­fare costs such as unem­ploy­ment ben­e­fits.

    But sev­er­al coali­tion sources say the fed­er­al states and local author­i­ties will need near­er 6 bil­lion euros and that the total could rise to 9 bil­lion euros.

    “(Even) that is rather a con­ser­v­a­tive esti­mate,” said one coali­tion source.

    Among Schaeuble’s con­ser­v­a­tives, the ‘schwarze Null’ is some­thing of a holy grail. He has said he wants to finance the refugee cri­sis with­out net new bor­row­ing if pos­si­ble.

    But if he is to stick to the goal, Schaeu­ble may face a stark choice between rais­ing tax­es — anath­e­ma to most con­ser­v­a­tives, or impos­ing spend­ing cuts — unac­cept­able to the Social Democ­rats (SPD) who share pow­er in Merkel’s coali­tion.

    The SPD has dis­missed talk of a ‘mini aus­ter­i­ty pack­age’ that would force min­istries to save 500 mil­lion euros in 2016.

    “We are fac­ing a his­toric chal­lenge that we won’t do jus­tice to with bean-count­ing,” SPD Gen­er­al Sec­re­tary Yas­min Fahi­mi told Der Spiegel Online.

    “We are fac­ing a his­toric chal­lenge that we won’t do jus­tice to with bean-count­ing,” SPD Gen­er­al Sec­re­tary Yas­min Fahi­mi told Der Spiegel Online. But as we just saw, her coun­ter­parts in the CDU may not share her pri­or­i­ties, espe­cial­ly if they end up depri­or­i­tiz­ing the much cher­ished (and irre­spon­si­ble, giv­en the cir­cum­stance) bal­anced bud­get.

    So what’s going to win? Doing jus­tice in the face of a his­toric chal­lenge? The prized ‘schwarze Null’? Or how about a new round of bud­get-cut­ting ‘mini-aus­ter­i­ty’ that allows for both addi­tion­al spend­ing on refugees and the ‘schwarze Null’? Yes, the SPD has already dis­missed that last option, but when you lis­ten to what the Ger­man finance min­istry on this top, a new round of ‘mini-aus­ter­i­ty’ is basi­cal­ly the only option left because, at least based on the min­istry’s state­ments, the refugees will indeed be giv­en bud­getary pri­or­i­ty. But that’s not going to stop a bal­anced bud­get:

    Reuters

    Ger­man finance min­istry — Still tar­get­ing bal­anced bud­get despite refugee costs

    Reuters – Sun, Sep 20, 2015 23:19 BST

    BERLIN, Sept 21 (Reuters) — - Ger­many still aims to achieve a bal­anced bud­get this year and next despite bal­loon­ing costs for a record-break­ing influx of refugees, the Finance Min­istry said on Mon­day.

    Cop­ing with the flood of refugees is the main pri­or­i­ty of the gov­ern­ment, and min­is­ters must sub­or­di­nate any addi­tion­al spend­ing wish­es to that, Deputy Finance Min­is­ter Thomas Stef­fen said in the min­istry’s lat­est month­ly report.

    Sol­id finances are need­ed if any gov­ern­ment is to be able to react to unex­pect­ed chal­lenges such as the refugee cri­sis, Stef­fen added.

    “That’s why the gov­ern­ment still aims to achieve a bal­anced bud­get this year and next, despite the addi­tion­al bud­getary pres­sures,” he said.

    Coali­tion sources told Reuters on Thurs­day that the unex­pect­ed cost of look­ing after the refugees might scup­per Finance Min­is­ter Wolf­gang Schaeuble’s cher­ished goal of achiev­ing a bal­anced bud­get for the next five years.

    ...

    The BGA trade body said it expects Ger­many to post anoth­er export record this year while the Munich-based Ifo think-tank pre­dicts that the cur­rent account sur­plus to hit a new record of 250 bil­lion euros this year.

    Yes, the ‘schwarze Null’ is appar­ent­ly non-nego­tiable, but, accord­ing to the finance min­istry, cop­ing with the flood of refugees is the main pri­or­i­ty of the gov­ern­ment, and min­is­ters must sub­or­di­nate any addi­tion­al spend­ing wish­es to that.

    And so, the rea­son­ing goes, in order to deal with unex­pect­ed chal­lenges like a refugee cri­sis, Ger­many needs very sol­id finances and there­fore bal­anc­ing Ger­many’s bud­get next year is impor­tant if Ger­many is going to be able to deal with unex­pect­ed crises...despite the fact that the refugee cri­sis is no longer “unex­pect­ed” but actu­al­ly hap­pen­ing now and with no end in sight and despite the fact that Ger­many is set to hit a record trade sur­plus this year. Don’t think about it too hard:

    ...
    Sol­id finances are need­ed if any gov­ern­ment is to be able to react to unex­pect­ed chal­lenges such as the refugee cri­sis, Stef­fen added.

    “That’s why the gov­ern­ment still aims to achieve a bal­anced bud­get this year and next, despite the addi­tion­al bud­getary pres­sures,” he said.
    ...

    The BGA trade body said it expects Ger­many to post anoth­er export record this year while the Munich-based Ifo think-tank pre­dicts that the cur­rent account sur­plus to hit a new record of 250 bil­lion euros this year.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | September 22, 2015, 5:30 pm
  3. Accord­ing to a recent poll, 41 per­cent of Amer­i­cans sup­port build­ing a wall with Mex­i­co...and Cana­da:

    Bloomberg Pol­i­tics
    Oh Cana­da! Four in 10 Amer­i­cans Want Wall on North­ern Bor­der
    What’s good for Mex­i­co should be good for neigh­bors to the north, they rea­son.

    John McCormick
    Arit John
    Sep­tem­ber 24, 2015 — 4:00 AM CDT

    Failed Repub­li­can pres­i­den­tial can­di­date Scott Walk­er may feel some vin­di­ca­tion in this num­ber: 41 per­cent of Amer­i­cans say that if a wall is built along the Mex­i­can bor­der, one should also be erect­ed on the Cana­di­an one. And yes, the same per­cent­age favors a wall erect­ed along the nation’s south­ern bor­der.

    The lat­est Bloomberg Pol­i­tics poll also shows that immi­gra­tion, a flash­point in the 2016 pres­i­den­tial cam­paign thanks in large point to the incen­di­ary rhetoric of Repub­li­can front-run­ner Don­ald Trump, is an issue that stirs strong emo­tions among Amer­i­cans, some of them con­tra­dic­to­ry. While four in ten Amer­i­cans favor bor­der walls, over­whelm­ing majori­ties also express pos­i­tive feel­ings about immi­gra­tion: 80 per­cent agree the U.S. econ­o­my has thrived his­tor­i­cal­ly because of new arrivals and 70 per­cent expressed approval for the efforts of Pope Fran­cis to encour­age nations to be more wel­com­ing of immi­grants.

    It was a point the pon­tiff made almost imme­di­ate­ly upon arriv­ing in the U.S., telling a crowd at the White House: “As a son of an immi­grant fam­i­ly, I am hap­py to be a guest in this coun­try, which was large­ly built by such fam­i­lies.”

    Trump has called for a phys­i­cal wall to be com­plet­ed along the bor­der with Mex­i­co, a con­cept that 41 per­cent of Amer­i­cans sup­port and 55 per­cent oppose; 56 per­cent dis­agree with the idea of build­ing a wall along the Cana­di­an bor­der, a notion that became one of the gaffes that hurt Walk­er’s can­di­da­cy, which the Wis­con­sin gov­er­nor end­ed ear­li­er this week. After ini­tial­ly indi­cat­ing that he thought the idea was worth addi­tion­al study, Walk­er lat­er clar­i­fied that he did­n’t actu­al­ly want to build a phys­i­cal wall along the more than 5,000-mile bor­der.

    Jake Crosan, 73, a retired truck dri­ver from Pigeon Forge, Ten­nessee, is some­one who does favor a wall along the Cana­di­an bor­der, if one is built along the south­ern bor­der.

    “If you cut off one, they’re going to come in the oth­er way,” said Crosan, a Trump sup­port­er. “It’s des­o­late up there in some places on the Cana­di­an bor­der and they’ve got­ta do some­thing up there to stop them from com­ing in.”

    Asked if he wor­ried of the cost of such a project, Crosan said it would be a good invest­ment for the gov­ern­ment and Amer­i­can peo­ple. “The mon­ey we would save by keep­ing the ille­gals out would pay for itself,” he said. “They’re tak­ing our jobs, and the more peo­ple we get back to work, they pay tax­es. It’ll pay for itself.”

    Among oth­er immi­gra­tion pro­pos­als test­ed, the great­est sup­port record­ed was for requir­ing busi­ness­es to ver­i­fy the immi­gra­tion sta­tus of new hires, with 75 per­cent back­ing this approach.

    The next most pop­u­lar pro­pos­al, win­ning the back­ing of 47 per­cent of Amer­i­cans: issu­ing visas grant­i­ng per­ma­nent res­i­den­cy to for­eign-born stu­dents edu­cat­ed in the U.S. so that they can stay and work after grad­u­a­tion. Close­ly fol­low­ing was the 44 per­cent who favor stream­lin­ing the process for employ­ers to hire the sea­son­al and per­ma­nent employ­ees they need when Amer­i­cans are not fill­ing vacan­cies.

    A slim major­i­ty of Americans—54 percent—agree with this state­ment: “Immi­gra­tion is a nation­al secu­ri­ty con­cern, so legal and ille­gal immi­gra­tion should be decreased.”

    The poll shows Amer­i­cans are divid­ed on the ques­tion of whether immi­grants cre­ate jobs, with 48 per­cent agree­ing with the state­ment that the U.S. needs more jobs and should “selec­tive­ly encour­age more legal immi­gra­tion,” while 46 per­cent dis­agree.

    Just 30 per­cent say Amer­i­can cul­ture will be lost if the U.S. con­tin­ues to take in immi­grants, while 67 per­cent dis­agree with that sen­ti­ment. Among reg­is­tered Repub­li­can and those who lean Repub­li­can, 57 per­cent dis­agree, while 77 per­cent of Democ­rats dis­agree Amer­i­can cul­ture will be lost.

    Paul Emel, 38, a shop fore­man in a Kansas glass fac­to­ry, sup­ports Trump in part because of his views on immi­gra­tion.

    “It’s not all the for­eign­ers that both­er me,” he said. “It’s the for­eign­ers that get in the wel­fare line and the ones that hate Amer­i­ca. They get in the wel­fare line and say we owe them every­thing and if you don’t agree with me you need to have your head chopped off.”

    ...

    The poll of 1,001 U.S. adults was con­duct­ed from Sept. 18–21 by West Des Moines-based Selz­er & Co. The mar­gin of error on the full sam­ple is plus or minus 3.1 per­cent­age points.

    “It’s not all the for­eign­ers that both­er me...It’s the for­eign­ers that get in the wel­fare line and the ones that hate Amer­i­ca. They get in the wel­fare line and say we owe them every­thing and if you don’t agree with me you need to have your head chopped off.”
    It sounds like the “Wel­fare Queen” myth is in the process of get­ting updat­ed to include mur­der­ous intent for the con­tem­po­rary undoc­u­ment­ed immi­grant nation­al freak out (Well, ok, sort of updat­ed).

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | September 24, 2015, 2:11 pm
  4. A new EU poll across sev­en mem­ber states (UK, France, Ger­many, Nether­lands, Spain, Italy, and Den­mark) was just con­duct­ed on pub­lic atti­tudes on what the EU should be doing to help the refugees. The good news is that there’s strong sup­port for doing some­thing to help the refugees. The bad news, espe­cial­ly for the refugees, is that the sup­port appears to be most­ly for doing things to help the refugees that does­n’t actu­al­ly involve giv­ing them refuge:

    The Guardian
    Euro­peans feel a duty to help refugees – but not in their own coun­tries

    Poll finds less than 50% of vot­ers in UK, France and Nether­lands are in favour of shar­ing out refugees, com­pared with 80% of Ger­mans and Ital­ians

    Alber­to Nardel­li

    Fri­day 30 Octo­ber 2015 09.37 EDT

    Most vot­ers in west­ern Europe believe the Euro­pean Union has a duty to help those flee­ing war – as long as it is not their coun­try being asked to wel­come them.

    Accord­ing to a poll car­ried out by Ifop in sev­en EU mem­ber states, enti­tled “Euro­peans face the migrant cri­sis”, a major­i­ty in each coun­try feel Europe has a duty to help those try­ing to escape con­flict and mis­ery.

    But when it comes to wel­com­ing refugees into their own coun­tries, vot­ers in west­ern Europe are divid­ed.

    Near­ly 80% of Ger­mans and Ital­ians are in favour of plans to relo­cate tens of thou­sands of refugees across Europe and for the scheme to include their respec­tive coun­tries, com­pared with less than half peo­ple in the UK, France and the Nether­lands.

    The poll notes stark dif­fer­ences between left-lean­ing and right-lean­ing vot­ers in the dif­fer­ent coun­tries.

    These are par­tic­u­lar­ly evi­dent in France and Den­mark, where 70% and 81% of left-lean­ing vot­ers have a favourable view of the EU’s relo­ca­tion plans, com­pared with 29% and 37% respec­tive­ly of vot­ers on the right.

    The sur­vey pro­vides var­i­ous rea­sons to explain the con­trast in views and the dis­crep­an­cies between the sev­en coun­tries.

    It notes that only a major­i­ty in Ger­many believes wel­com­ing refugees is an oppor­tu­ni­ty. This com­pares to rough­ly a third of vot­ers in Britain, Italy, Den­mark and Spain, and a fifth of vot­ers in France and the Nether­lands.

    Sim­i­lar­ly, only a major­i­ty in Ger­many (69%) and Den­mark (53%) feel their coun­try has the eco­nom­ic means nec­es­sary to wel­come refugees.

    Most vot­ers, with the excep­tion of those in Spain and Ger­many, believe their respec­tive coun­tries already have too many immi­grants and can­not cope with wel­com­ing more.

    The poll also finds a strong cor­re­la­tion between people’s atti­tudes to immi­gra­tion and their per­cep­tion of refugees’ qual­i­fi­ca­tions. Those who believe refugees have poor qual­i­fi­ca­tions and would strug­gle to inte­grate take a more neg­a­tive atti­tude.

    There appears to be a weak­er cor­re­la­tion between vot­ers’ atti­tudes and the per­cep­tion the pub­lic has of the moti­va­tions of refugees. A major­i­ty in five of the sev­en EU mem­ber states sur­veyed – includ­ing in coun­tries such as Britain that hold more unwel­com­ing views – believe that most peo­ple arriv­ing are seek­ing asy­lum because they are flee­ing war or are being per­se­cut­ed in their coun­tries of ori­gin.

    How­ev­er, there are also dif­fer­ences along polit­i­cal par­ty lines in this case.

    The same dis­crep­an­cies are on dis­play in terms of how many refugees the pub­lic think their coun­try has tak­en com­pared with oth­er nations. The pro­por­tion of vot­ers on the right who believe their coun­try has tak­en more than oth­ers is between 11 and 15 points high­er com­pared with the elec­torate as a whole.

    Con­verse­ly, vot­ers on the left, who tend to have more favourable atti­tudes, are more inclined to believe refugees even­tu­al­ly want to return home, com­pared with the broad­er elec­torate.

    There are con­cerns shared across all sev­en coun­tries. A major­i­ty are wor­ried about the pos­si­bil­i­ty that help­ing refugees will increase migra­tion from else­where.

    And a major­i­ty in each state feels there is a risk that poten­tial ter­ror­ists may be hid­ing among the refugees arriv­ing in Europe.

    In this case, the fig­ures vary some­what between the dif­fer­ent coun­tries, with 64% in Ger­many shar­ing this fear com­pared with 66% in Den­mark, 69% in Spain and France, 79% in Italy, 80% in the UK and 85% in the Nether­lands.

    ...

    Asked which mea­sures the EU should give pri­or­i­ty to in han­dling the refugee cri­sis, respons­es var­ied between the coun­tries sur­veyed.

    Pro­vid­ing devel­op­ment aid and sup­port­ing sta­bil­i­ty in the region was the most men­tioned top mea­sure by a major­i­ty of Ger­mans, with 55% say­ing it was the most impor­tant. This is a view shared by more than a third of vot­ers in Britain and near­ly 30% in France.

    Aid and sta­bil­is­ing the region was the only mea­sure among those test­ed that was list­ed by a major­i­ty in all coun­tries sur­veyed.

    A fifth of vot­ers in all the mem­ber states except France (12%) believe aid and shel­ter in the coun­tries of ori­gin should be the pri­ma­ry area of focus.

    There were far greater dif­fer­ences among respon­dents in terms of pri­ori­tis­ing the rein­force­ment of bor­der con­trols to tack­le migra­tion: a third of vot­ers in France, 20% in the UK, Italy, the Nether­lands and Den­mark, 15% in Ger­many and few­er than 10% in Spain said tougher con­trols were of the upmost impor­tance.

    Pri­ori­tis­ing mil­i­tary inter­ven­tion in Syr­ia is sup­port­ed by near­ly 30% of vot­ers in France and Spain, and 12% in Ger­many.

    France is the only coun­try among those sur­veyed where a major­i­ty men­tioned mil­i­tary inter­ven­tion as part of the over­all mea­sures that should be tak­en.

    Method­ol­o­gy: Ifop polled 1000–1100 peo­ple online aged 18 or above in France, Ger­many, the UK, Spain, Italy, the Nether­lands and Den­mark. Sam­ples were rep­re­sen­ta­tive of nation­al pop­u­la­tions.

    “Aid and sta­bil­is­ing the region was the only mea­sure among those test­ed that was list­ed by a major­i­ty in all coun­tries sur­veyed.”
    Well, at least it sounds like a major­i­ty of vot­ers in Ger­many and Spain are con­tin­u­ing to back the idea of tak­ing in refugees. Let’s hope that wel­com­ing spir­it endures. Espe­cial­ly in Ger­many because, as the arti­cle below points out, Ger­many has three state elec­tions com­ing up in March and Angela Merkel is fac­ing an anti-refugee con­ser­v­a­tive revolt:

    Bloomberg Busi­ness
    Merkel Hold­ing Emer­gency Talks on Refugees to Quell Par­ty Revolt

    Patrick Don­ahue
    Arne Delfs
    Octo­ber 30, 2015 — 6:01 PM CDT

    * Chan­cel­lor meet­ing over week­end with coali­tion par­ty lead­ers
    * Merkel con­fronts increas­ing iso­la­tion over her refugee stance

    Ger­man Chan­cel­lor Angela Merkel is hold­ing emer­gency talks with par­ty lead­ers this week­end to quell a revolt among her Bavar­i­an allies over her han­dling of the biggest influx of refugees since World War II.

    Back from a two-day trip to Chi­na, where the strain of the spi­ral­ing tur­moil began to show, Merkel will meet Sat­ur­day evening with Bavar­i­an Pre­mier Horst See­hofer, who has demand­ed she stem the flow of as many as a mil­lion new­com­ers into Ger­many this year. The two will meet Sun­day with Social Demo­c­ra­t­ic leader Sig­mar Gabriel, a coali­tion part­ner who oppos­es caps on refugees.

    As Merkel seeks to defuse the polit­i­cal unrest over her open-door refugee pol­i­cy, she also con­fronts wan­ing pub­lic approval for her insis­tence that Ger­many has a moral and legal oblig­a­tion to pro­tect all those seek­ing shel­ter from war and oppres­sion. Back­ing for her Chris­t­ian Demo­c­ra­t­ic Union slipped two points to 36 per­cent this week, down from an August peak of 43 per­cent, accord­ing to a week­ly poll car­ried out by For­sa.

    “Sup­port for Merkel is drop­ping,” Andrea Roem­mele, a polit­i­cal sci­en­tist at the Her­tie School of Gov­er­nance in Berlin, said in an inter­view. “There is still huge poten­tial for civ­il soci­ety to help and sup­port, but she has to do some­thing.”

    While rum­blings have been more mut­ed from with­in her Chris­t­ian Demo­c­ra­t­ic Union, her chief crit­ic has been See­hofer, chair­man of the Chris­t­ian Social Union, the CDU’s Bavar­i­an sis­ter par­ty. His state has been inun­dat­ed by thou­sands of refugees pour­ing over the bor­der from Aus­tria.

    See­hofer said Bavaria would take unspec­i­fied action if Merkel didn’t meet his demands by Sun­day to curb the num­ber of migrants, while Merkel has reject­ed caps on asy­lum seek­ers. Gabriel, Merkel’s vice chan­cel­lor, has turned on both, say­ing the Berlin-Munich quar­rel was mak­ing the cri­sis worse.

    “This type of mutu­al intim­i­da­tion and abuse is unwor­thy and sim­ply irre­spon­si­ble,” Gabriel told Spiegel Online.

    Creep­ing Iso­la­tion

    Even as she faces accu­sa­tions from par­ty allies that her poli­cies have trig­gered an unsus­tain­able wave of migrants, Merkel is in no imme­di­ate polit­i­cal dan­ger from law­mak­ers who don’t have any appetite to top­ple her and seek a suc­ces­sor. Still, the chan­cel­lor faces creep­ing iso­la­tion as a pub­lic ini­tial­ly lin­ing up to wel­come refugees begins to fret over the ever-mount­ing num­ber of new­com­ers.

    As a “super incum­bent,” Merkel will be able to par­ry threats com­ing from the CSU and emerg­ing from with­in her par­ty, Roem­mele said. “What she can­not lose is pub­lic sup­port.”

    Merkel has sought to side­step the domes­tic squab­bling, focus­ing on the geopo­lit­i­cal dimen­sion of the region’s refugee cri­sis, which has been com­pound­ed by the civ­il war in Syr­ia and exposed the 28-mem­ber Euro­pean Union’s inabil­i­ty to set­tle on a strat­e­gy for respond­ing to it.

    After wad­ing into an elec­tion cam­paign in Turkey this month to seek help in stem­ming the flow of migrants into the EU, Merkel this week even court­ed China’s lead­ers for assis­tance.

    Deep Con­cern

    “We are deeply con­cerned about the refugee cri­sis cur­rent­ly tak­ing place in Europe and par­tic­u­lar­ly in Ger­many,” Chi­nese Pre­mier Li Keqiang said in Bei­jing at a joint news con­fer­ence with Merkel on Thurs­day. “We will con­tin­ue to make our con­struc­tive con­tri­bu­tion to the solu­tion of the Syr­i­an con­flict.”

    Her glob­al view will have to return to local pol­i­tics as Merkel’s par­ty gears up for three state elec­tions next March, a pre­cur­sor to 2017 nation­al elec­tions and a pos­si­ble bid for a fourth term for the chan­cel­lor. For that, she’ll have to engage with vot­ers whose wel­come is wear­ing thin.

    ...

    “Her glob­al view will have to return to local pol­i­tics as Merkel’s par­ty gears up for three state elec­tions next March, a pre­cur­sor to 2017 nation­al elec­tions and a pos­si­ble bid for a fourth term for the chan­cel­lor. For that, she’ll have to engage with vot­ers whose wel­come is wear­ing thin.”
    Yikes. So, at this point, it remains increas­ing­ly unclear what the EU’s response it going to be, but what is clear is that as the cri­sis con­tin­ues, patience among the pop­u­lace is prob­a­bly going to wane as ‘cri­sis fatigue’ con­tin­ues to grow. Of course, since ‘cri­sis fatigue’ is noth­ing com­pared to the actu­al fatigue expe­ri­enced by the refugees, the ques­tion of what exact­ly the EU is going to do remains very unclear since no one seems to be will­ing to give the refugees refuge but the obvi­ous alter­na­tive to giv­ing refuge is send­ing them back into war zones.

    So let’s hope the EU (and the rest of the world) can con­verge on some sort of humane solu­tion. Soon. And let’s hope it’s actu­al­ly a real­is­tic solu­tion because, as the arti­cle below makes clear, wild­ly unre­al­is­tic solu­tions to ques­tions of where to place peo­ple in Europe might be tak­en seri­ous­ly. For decades:

    http://www.abc.net.au
    RN After­noons
    One man’s plan to dam the Mediter­ranean

    Wednes­day 30 Sep­tem­ber 2015 8:16AM
    Jere­my Sto­ry Carter

    As Europe grap­ples with how to house hun­dreds of thou­sands of refugees seek­ing out safe new lands, RN After­noons digs up a remark­able 1920s Ger­man archi­tec­t’s plan to dam the Mediter­ranean Sea, cre­ate a new super­con­ti­nent, solve ener­gy needs and achieve cross-con­ti­nen­tal peace.

    Imag­ine for a sec­ond that the com­bined pow­ers of Europe pooled their resources and built a mega dam in the Mediter­ranean, cre­at­ing a new land mass that could house mil­lions of dis­placed peo­ple.

    Is it so hare­brained an idea that it might actu­al­ly work?

    No.

    For three decades though, the idea of damming the Mediter­ranean was treat­ed with the utmost seri­ous­ness.

    Archi­tects and engi­neers were con­sult­ed, plans for new cities were drawn up and the new land was even giv­en a name: Atlantropa.

    The man respon­si­ble for the idea in 1922 was Her­man Sörgel, a Ger­man archi­tect with a enthu­si­asm for hydropow­er.

    He saw the plan as suc­ceed­ing across a num­ber of lofty ideals: cre­at­ing a new land for Euro­pean migra­tion, solv­ing the con­ti­nen­t’s ener­gy and employ­ment prob­lems and achiev­ing peace among its nations.

    While it reads as a slight­ly cracked vision per­fect­ly at home in the ear­ly 20th cen­tu­ry, Sörgel’s con­cept still rep­re­sents a jum­ble of futur­ist ideas that hold eerie par­al­lels to mod­ern dilem­mas faced by Euro­pean pol­i­cy mak­ers.

    Ricar­da Vidal, from the Depart­ment of Cul­ture, Media and Cre­ative Indus­tries at King’s Col­lege in Lon­don, has stud­ied Sörgel’s idea of Atlantropa.

    ‘It was tak­en seri­ous­ly by pol­i­cy mak­ers and social engi­neers for a while,’ she says.

    ‘He thought that the Mediter­ranean was this fan­tas­tic ener­gy resource, so if you dammed it, you could actu­al­ly pro­duce enough ener­gy [through hydropow­er] for the whole of Africa and Europe.’

    The 23-kilo­me­tre-long dam was planned to block off the Strait of Gilbratar from Tar­i­fa at the south­ern tip of Spain to Tang­i­er in Mor­ro­co.

    ‘That is where the Mediter­ranean is at its shal­low­est, though it is still 300 metres deep,’ says Vidal.

    ‘There is the objec­tion that there is not enough con­crete in the world to do that.’

    Sörgel believed that tech­no­log­i­cal advances over time would make the project pos­si­ble.

    Remark­ably, he saw its unfath­omable cost as being part of the attrac­tion.

    ‘The idea was he was try­ing to get all of the Euro­pean lead­ers to agree on build­ing the dam. The dam would cost so much mon­ey that no one would have any mon­ey left to wage war,’ says Vidal.

    ‘It was also a solu­tion to unem­ploy­ment, because you would need so many peo­ple to help build it.’

    Sörgel esti­mat­ed his dream would require 1,000,000 peo­ple over the pro­jec­t’s lifes­pan to build the dam.

    Over time, he imag­ined a new land mass the com­bined size of France and Bel­gium would emerge. That, in turn, would irrepara­bly alter exist­ing cities and coast­lines.

    ‘Port cities would be left strand­ed inland. Genoa or Mar­seille, for instance, would no longer be at the sea,’ says Vidal.

    Sörgel intend­ed to cre­ate new port cities where fish­ing would be pos­si­ble, and leave the old ones as tourist attrac­tions.

    ‘He did­n’t real­ly take into account that the sea would prob­a­bly turn into a dead sea because it would have been com­plete­ly over­salt­ed.’

    One of the most mind-bog­gling aspects of Sörgel’s plan was the way in which Europe’s ener­gy, gen­er­at­ed through the dam’s hydropow­er sys­tem, would be con­trolled.

    Believ­ing the need for ener­gy would prove a major dri­ver in future world wars, he want­ed each coun­try’s pow­er sup­ply to be con­trolled by the Unit­ed Nations.

    ‘The UN would have a switch with a coun­try’s name on it, so if Italy start­ed to wage war on its neigh­bour, you could just flick the Italy switch and they would not get any pow­er any­more,’ says Vidal.

    The entire project was antic­i­pat­ed to take 150 years to ful­ly com­plete, though it was believed the dam would begin devel­op­ing pow­er with­in the first 15 years.

    What might have hap­pened had the plan been seen through to its con­clu­sion?

    ‘We might all be dead by now, because of the cat­a­stroph­ic con­se­quences to the cli­mate and the envi­ron­ment,’ says Vidal.

    After three decades of sup­port from across Europe, enthu­si­asm for the idea began to dwin­dle.

    ‘It was seen as a fair­ly rea­son­able plan until the 1950s,’ says Vidal.

    ‘What real­ly killed it off was the dis­cov­ery of nuclear pow­er. In the 1950s, when they realised that they could use nuclear ener­gy not just for a bomb but for pow­er, hydro ener­gy became unin­ter­est­ing.’

    ...

    Atlantropa “was seen as a fair­ly rea­son­able plan until the 1950s”. And yet...

    ...
    What might have hap­pened had the plan been seen through to its con­clu­sion?

    ‘We might all be dead by now, because of the cat­a­stroph­ic con­se­quences to the cli­mate and the envi­ron­ment,’ says Vidal.
    ...

    Yes, in drain­ing the Mediter­ranean cre­at­ing a new land for Euro­pean migrants, the cre­ation of Atlantropa might have actu­al­ly trig­gered cat­a­stroph­ic cli­mate change and cre­at­ed even more refugees, which is more than a lit­tle iron­ic. But it’s a reminder that high­ly ambi­tious plans that could take 150 years to com­plete and reshape the world are also pos­si­ble. At least decades of con­sid­er­a­tion is pos­si­ble, even if the plan isn’t real­ly fea­si­ble. So you have to won­der what high­ly ambi­tious plans (that don’t result in a cli­mate cat­a­stro­phe) are even avail­able for not just the EU but the whole world in terms of prepar­ing for a future where refugee crises are going to be increas­ing­ly the norm. Well, Alex­is Tsipras may have recent­ly hint­ed at such a big, bold idea. An idea that could take 150 years to com­plete, but could also yield pos­i­tive results almost imme­di­ate­ly. And it’s pret­ty sim­ple too and does­n’t require drain­ing a sea: Don’t just help the refugees. Stop hat­ing them for exist­ing too and con­sid­er actu­al­ly lik­ing them as fel­low human beings:

    The Wall Street Jour­nal
    Tsipras Accus­es Euro­pean Nations of Hypocrisy Over Migrant Cri­sis
    Greek leader hits out as death toll con­tin­ues to rise in Aegean Sea

    By Ste­lious Bouras and
    Nek­taria Sta­mouli
    Updat­ed Oct. 30, 2015 8:48 a.m. ET

    ATHENS—Greek Prime Min­is­ter Alex­is Tsipras lashed out at Euro­pean nations Fri­day for their han­dling of the migrant cri­sis, accus­ing them of shed­ding ”croc­o­dile tears for dead chil­dren.”

    His unusu­al­ly harsh com­ments come as the death toll in the Aegean Sea from refugees and oth­er migrants con­tin­ues to rise. On Fri­day, 22 peo­ple drowned, includ­ing chil­dren, in two sep­a­rate inci­dents involv­ing boats sink­ing off the islands of Rhodes and Kalym­nos, close to the bor­der with Turkey.

    “I feel ashamed as a mem­ber of the Euro­pean lead­er­ship not only for Europe’s inabil­i­ty to deal with this issue, but also for the lev­el that the con­ver­sa­tion is tak­ing place,” Mr. Tsipras told law­mak­ers.

    “These are hyp­o­crit­i­cal and croc­o­dile tears, which are being shed for the dead chil­dren. Dead chil­dren always incite sor­row. But what about the chil­dren that are alive, who come in thou­sands and are stacked on the streets? Nobody likes them,” he said.

    Greece has become the main gate­way for peo­ple enter­ing Europe, flee­ing vio­lence and war from coun­tries such as Syr­ia and Afghanistan.

    ...

    “These are hyp­o­crit­i­cal and croc­o­dile tears, which are being shed for the dead chil­dren. Dead chil­dren always incite sor­row. But what about the chil­dren that are alive, who come in thou­sands and are stacked on the streets? Nobody likes them
    That cer­tain­ly appears to be the case. So how about, as part of both the short and long-term solu­tions to the refugee crises, we do a big push, glob­al­ly, to actu­al­ly try to like refugees (a stranger is just a friend you haven’t met, right?) and stop view­ing them as “not in my tribe, so I don’t care” peo­ple. Is that even pos­si­ble? If so, great! Let’s do it. And if not, uh oh, because trib­al­ist “us vs them” atti­tudes aren’t just imped­ing a res­o­lu­tion to the refugee cri­sis. It’s cre­at­ing refugee crises.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | October 31, 2015, 4:51 pm
  5. Here’s anoth­er inter­est­ing out­come from Europe’s refugee cri­sis response: Don­ald Tusk, Poland’s for­mer Prime Min­is­ter who is cur­rent­ly the pres­i­dent of the Euro­pean Coun­cil, just called on Ger­many to take a lead­er­ship role in secur­ing the EU’s bor­ders:

    The Tele­graph
    Ger­many ‘must get tougher on migrants’, says Euro­pean Coun­cil pres­i­dent
    Euro­pean Coun­cil pres­i­dent Don­ald Tusk tells Angela Merkel that Ger­many needs to do more to help secure Europe’s exter­nal bor­ders

    By Melanie Hall in Berlin

    8:13PM GMT 08 Nov 2015

    Ger­many needs to be tougher in the refugee cri­sis and do more to help secure Europe’s exter­nal bor­ders, the pres­i­dent of the Euro­pean Coun­cil has warned Angela Merkel.

    Don­ald Tusk praised the Ger­man government’s readi­ness to accept hun­dreds of thou­sands of migrants, describ­ing its lead­er­ship role as “the most lib­er­al and tol­er­ant in Euro­pean his­to­ry”.

    But he urged the Ger­man chan­cel­lor to do more to con­trol the migrant influx to ensure the EU’s bor­ders are prop­er­ly pro­tect­ed.

    “I under­stand why, due to his­tor­i­cal rea­sons, Ger­many may have dif­fi­cul­ty set­ting up a strict regime on its [own] bor­ders,” he said ahead of a meet­ing with Mrs Merkel in Berlin.

    “But for Ger­many, Euro­pean lead­er­ship respon­si­bil­i­ty also means con­trol­ling Europe’s exter­nal bor­ders deci­sive­ly if nec­es­sary, in accor­dance with pan-Euro­pean uni­ty.”

    ...

    Ger­many has tak­en in 758,000 asy­lum seek­ers between Jan­u­ary and Octo­ber, with some esti­mates putting the num­ber of asy­lum appli­ca­tions at one mil­lion by the end of the year.

    The influx has led to a polit­i­cal back­lash against the chan­cel­lor. Only two days after resolv­ing a coali­tion dis­pute over how to man­age the migrants, the rul­ing par­ties are involved in anoth­er row over whether to lim­it the asy­lum rights of Syr­i­an refugees.

    The gov­ern­ment was forced to clar­i­fy on Fri­day that its asy­lum pol­i­cy for refugees from Syr­ia remained unchanged after Thomas de Maiz­ière, Germany’s inte­ri­or min­is­ter, said many Syr­i­ans would receive a mod­i­fied refugee sta­tus called “sub­sidiary pro­tec­tion” lim­it­ing them to a one-year renew­able res­i­dence per­mit instead of three.

    Sub­sidiary pro­tec­tion means migrants are not grant­ed asy­lum or refugee sta­tus and their rights are lim­it­ed, includ­ing not being allowed to bring rela­tions to Ger­many for two years.

    Mr de Maizière’s com­ments in a radio inter­view, which he retract­ed lat­er, have reopened a rift between Mrs Merkel’s Chris­t­ian Demo­c­ra­t­ic Union (CDU), its Bavar­i­an sis­ter par­ty the Chris­t­ian Social Union (CSU) and coali­tion part­ners the Social Democ­rats (SPD).

    Ralf Steg­n­er, deputy chair­man of the SPD, accused the CDU on Sat­ur­day of putting for­ward ill-con­ceived pro­pos­als instead of imple­ment­ing the deci­sions agreed by the coali­tion.

    More women and chil­dren would under­take the per­ilous jour­ney from Syr­ia to Europe if fam­i­ly reunions are restrict­ed, he said.

    Politi­cians from the CSU backed Mr de Maizière’s pro­pos­als, with the party’s sec­re­tary gen­er­al, Andreas Scheuer, telling news­pa­per Bild am Son­ntag: “Hun­dreds of thou­sands of Syr­i­ans are get­ting shel­ter here, but it must only be sub­sidiary pro­tec­tion – this means for a lim­it­ed peri­od and with­out hav­ing fam­i­ly mem­bers join them.”

    “But for Ger­many, Euro­pean lead­er­ship respon­si­bil­i­ty also means con­trol­ling Europe’s exter­nal bor­ders deci­sive­ly if nec­es­sary, in accor­dance with pan-Euro­pean uni­ty.”
    So that’s hap­pen­ing. Along with a row in Ger­many over whether or not to only grant “sub­sidiary pro­tec­tion” with restrict­ed rights to bring their fam­i­lies:

    ...
    The influx has led to a polit­i­cal back­lash against the chan­cel­lor. Only two days after resolv­ing a coali­tion dis­pute over how to man­age the migrants, the rul­ing par­ties are involved in anoth­er row over whether to lim­it the asy­lum rights of Syr­i­an refugees.

    The gov­ern­ment was forced to clar­i­fy on Fri­day that its asy­lum pol­i­cy for refugees from Syr­ia remained unchanged after Thomas de Maiz­ière, Germany’s inte­ri­or min­is­ter, said many Syr­i­ans would receive a mod­i­fied refugee sta­tus called “sub­sidiary pro­tec­tion” lim­it­ing them to a one-year renew­able res­i­dence per­mit instead of three.

    Sub­sidiary pro­tec­tion means migrants are not grant­ed asy­lum or refugee sta­tus and their rights are lim­it­ed, includ­ing not being allowed to bring rela­tions to Ger­many for two years.
    ...

    Keep in mind that one of the rea­son so many refugees are young men is that they’re mak­ing the trip first to find a safe host coun­try before their wife and kids comes. So this is poten­tial­ly a pol­i­cy shift that will be leav­ing the wives and kids behind in many cas­es. Also keep in mind that over half of the Syr­i­an refugees world­wide are chil­dren, which makes the pro­posed pol­i­cy shift quite a com­pli­ca­tion in terms of get­ting those kids the aid they need.

    This is also going to be a com­pli­ca­tion:

    Reuters

    Ger­many’s capac­i­ty to take in refugees is lim­it­ed, Schaeu­ble says

    BERLIN
    Sun Nov 8, 2015 2:08pm EST

    Ger­many needs to send a mes­sage to the world that it’s reach­ing the lim­it of its capac­i­ty to help Europe’s flood of migrants, Ger­man Finance Min­is­ter Wolf­gang Schaeu­ble said on Sun­day, as he advo­cat­ed restrict­ing fam­i­ly reunions for Syr­i­an refugees.

    Ger­many has become a mag­net for peo­ple flee­ing war and vio­lence in the Mid­dle East. It expects 800,000 to a mil­lion refugees and migrants to arrive this year, twice as many as in any pri­or year.

    “We need to send a clear mes­sage to the world: we are very much pre­pared to help, we’ve shown that we are, but our pos­si­bil­i­ties are also lim­it­ed,” Schaeu­ble said in an inter­view with ARD tele­vi­sion.

    The pace and scale of the influx has put pres­sure on local com­mu­ni­ties and opened a rift among the rul­ing coali­tion par­ties over the best way to han­dle the cri­sis.

    The divi­sions re-opened over the week­end, after Inte­ri­or Min­is­ter Thomas de Maiziere said in future Syr­i­an refugees would receive mod­i­fied refugee sta­tus and be barred from hav­ing fam­i­ly mem­bers join them, a state­ment he lat­er retract­ed.

    The Social Democ­rats (SPD), who share pow­er with Chan­cel­lor Angela Merkel’s con­ser­v­a­tives, reject­ed that pro­pos­al.

    Schaue­ble, how­ev­er, spoke out in favor of the mea­sure and said it was a pro­pos­al that the gov­ern­ment was exam­in­ing in detail.

    “I think it’s a nec­es­sary deci­sion and I’m very much in favor that we agree on this in the coali­tion,” he said.

    Horst See­hofer, the leader of Merkel’s Bavar­i­an allies, the Chris­t­ian Social Union (CSU), also backed de Maiziere’s sug­ges­tion, telling the Sued­deutsche Zeitung that the refugee sta­tus of Syr­i­ans should be indi­vid­u­al­ly checked.

    The lat­est row comes after the coali­tion end­ed weeks of infight­ing on Thurs­day evening on how to speed up the depor­ta­tion of asy­lum seek­ers who have lit­tle chance of being allowed to stay.

    Vice Chan­cel­lor Sig­mar Gabriel, who is also leader of the SPD, said it was impor­tant that the gov­ern­ment first imple­ment the mea­sures it had agreed to rather than com­ing up with new ones on a dai­ly basis.

    ...

    “I think it’s a nec­es­sary deci­sion and I’m very much in favor that we agree on this in the coali­tion”
    So Schaue­ble is ful­ly behind the “sub­sidiary pro­tec­tion” restric­tion. That’s def­i­nite­ly going to com­pli­cate things.

    Also this:

    The Guardian
    Euro­pean Union states have relo­cat­ed just 116 refugees out of 160,000

    EU agreed in Sep­tem­ber to trans­fer 160,000 peo­ple from most affect­ed states but so far just 86 have moved from Italy and 30 are due to leave Greece

    Alber­to Nardel­li

    Wednes­day 4 Novem­ber 2015 01.00 EST

    EU mem­ber states have so far relo­cat­ed only 116 refugees of the 160,000 they are com­mit­ted to relo­cat­ing over the next two years, accord­ing to new fig­ures.

    EU mem­bers states agreed in Sep­tem­ber to relo­cate 160,000 peo­ple in “clear need of inter­na­tion­al pro­tec­tion” through a scheme set up to relo­cate Syr­i­an, Eritre­an, and Iraqi refugees from the most affect­ed EU states – such as Italy and Greece – to oth­er EU mem­ber states.

    So far 116 peo­ple have been relo­cat­ed, and only 1,418 places have been made avail­able by 14 mem­ber states, accord­ing to data released on Tues­day by the Euro­pean Com­mis­sion.

    A total of 86 asy­lum seek­ers have been relo­cat­ed from Italy, and 30 asy­lum seek­ers will trav­el from Athens to Lux­em­bourg on Wednes­day. Den­mark, Ire­land and the UK have an opt-out from the scheme, but Britain is the only mem­ber state that has said it will not con­tribute to the relo­ca­tion.

    The EU’s emer­gency relo­ca­tion mech­a­nism is only one facet of the broad­er refugee cri­sis. Syr­ia, Iraq and Eritrea account for the major­i­ty of those cross­ing the Mediter­ranean. Accord­ing to the UNHCR, more than one in two are flee­ing from Syr­ia. While 6% of those arriv­ing via the Mediter­ranean are orig­i­nal­ly from Iraq, and 5% from Eritrea.

    ...

    This has con­tributed to a back­log of appli­ca­tions. At the end of last year there were just under 490,000 pend­ing appli­ca­tions across EU mem­ber states. In July of this year, the fig­ure stood at 632,000.

    The back­log is not show­ing signs of reced­ing any time soon: for every asy­lum deci­sion made there are 1.8 new appli­ca­tions. Approx­i­mate­ly 240,000 appli­ca­tions were processed between Jan­u­ary and June this year.

    Over the same six months, 432,345 appli­ca­tions were filed. How­ev­er, the Euro­pean Com­mis­sion data also reveals that beyond the logis­ti­cal chal­lenges, a “large num­ber of mem­ber states has yet to meet finan­cial com­mit­ments” and “too few mem­ber states” have respond­ed to calls to help Ser­bia, Slove­nia and Croa­t­ia; among the most used routes by asy­lum seek­ers, with essen­tial resources such as beds and blan­kets.

    “How­ev­er, the Euro­pean Com­mis­sion data also reveals that beyond the logis­ti­cal chal­lenges, a “large num­ber of mem­ber states has yet to meet finan­cial com­mit­ments” and “too few mem­ber states” have respond­ed to calls to help Ser­bia, Slove­nia and Croa­t­ia; among the most used routes by asy­lum seek­ers, with essen­tial resources such as beds and blan­kets.”
    So the calls for for beds, blan­kets and cash haven’t gone well. We spaces for a refugee in need of relo­ca­tion. We’ll see if the bor­der patrol pleas gar­ner of dif­fer­ent lev­el of response. It might.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | November 8, 2015, 7:20 pm
  6. The Pres­i­dent of the Euro­pean Coun­cil has a mes­sage to the EU over its han­dling of the refugee cri­sis: First, more sol­i­dar­i­ty is need­ed. Also, it’s pret­ty much up to Berlin to fig­ure out how to solve this:

    Reuters
    Europe depends on Ger­man approach to refugees: EU’s Tusk
    BERLIN | By Michael Nien­aber

    Mon Nov 9, 2015 5:28pm EST

    Europe’s future will depend to a large degree on Ger­many’s approach to the migra­tion cri­sis and oth­er states should show more sol­i­dar­i­ty by joint­ly tack­ling this his­toric chal­lenge, Euro­pean Coun­cil Pres­i­dent Don­ald Tusk said on Mon­day.

    Europe is grap­pling with its worst refugee cri­sis since World War Two and Ger­many so far has tak­en in the bulk of some one mil­lion peo­ple expect­ed to arrive this year.

    While Tusk has repeat­ed­ly stressed the urgency of tight­en­ing Europe’s bor­ders, Chan­cel­lor Angela Merkel has pushed for states to show sol­i­dar­i­ty and share respon­si­bil­i­ties for refugees.

    Merkel was ini­tial­ly cel­e­brat­ed at home and abroad for her wel­com­ing approach to the refugees, many of whom are flee­ing con­flict in the Mid­dle East. But as the flow has con­tin­ued and Ger­man facil­i­ties have been stretched to the lim­it, the chan­cel­lor has come under increas­ing crit­i­cism.

    Speak­ing in Berlin on the 26th anniver­sary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, Tusk described Ger­many and Merkel per­son­al­ly as exam­ples of the best Euro­pean val­ues.

    “Those who believe that Ger­many is too open, too tol­er­ant, too lib­er­al, for­got to do their home­work about our trag­ic his­to­ry,” said Tusk, a for­mer Pol­ish prime min­is­ter.

    “Do you want a Ger­many that is open, tol­er­ant, com­pas­sion­ate, sym­pa­thiz­ing with the weak­er and the poor­er, in oth­er words the Ger­many of Angela Merkel, or a Ger­many which is closed, cold and ruth­less? There is only one answer,” he added.

    There­fore, oth­er Euro­pean states should now show sol­i­dar­i­ty towards Ger­many “in these dif­fi­cult and test­ing times”, he said.

    EU chief exec­u­tive Jean-Claude Junck­er has accused nation­al lead­ers of sap­ping efforts to tack­le the migra­tion cri­sis by not hon­or­ing com­mit­ments on mon­ey and resources.

    MORAL MESSAGE

    Ger­many, on the oth­er hand, should real­ize that it is respon­si­ble not only for “its moral mes­sage”, but even more so for the whole polit­i­cal com­mu­ni­ty of Euro­peans, Tusk added.

    He urged Ger­many to pro­vide strong lead­er­ship by help­ing to secure Europe’s exter­nal bor­ders and pro­tect Europe against a rise of rad­i­cal pop­ulism.

    “Indeed, whether Europe sur­vives as a con­ti­nent of free­dom, the rule of law, respect for an indi­vid­ual, and the secu­ri­ty of its inhab­i­tants will depend to a great extent on Ger­mans.”

    Tusk called for a “mod­i­fi­ca­tion” of the cur­rent Euro­pean migra­tion pol­i­cy, warn­ing that Europe’s Schen­gen zone of pass­port-free trav­el was at risk if exter­nal bor­ders were not strength­ened.

    “In the face of the unprece­dent­ed scale of migrants flow­ing to Europe, we have to say in sim­ple terms: Europe is not able to accept all the peo­ple will­ing to come to our con­ti­nent.”

    “Let us not fool our­selves. The fall of the Berlin wall did not auto­mat­i­cal­ly abol­ish the need for bor­ders as such.”

    Since Ger­many is not a Euro­pean bor­der state, respon­si­bil­i­ty lies in the first place with oth­er coun­tries, Tusk said. “But even so, every­body will be look­ing up to you, watch­ing out for sig­nals com­ing from Berlin,” he added.

    Merkel has been crit­i­cized for unwit­ting­ly encour­ag­ing more refugees to come to Ger­many by stat­ing pub­licly that there was no upper lim­it to the num­ber that would be accept­ed.

    ...

    “Indeed, whether Europe sur­vives as a con­ti­nent of free­dom, the rule of law, respect for an indi­vid­ual, and the secu­ri­ty of its inhab­i­tants will depend to a great extent on Ger­mans.”
    Wow. That’s some bold lead­er­ship from the Euro­pean Coun­cil. But giv­en the fact that Ger­many real­ly is the de fac­to pay­mas­ter for the EU, and there­fore its de fac­to leader (since that’s how the EU rolls), it’s hard to deny that Tusk was­n’t mak­ing a valid, if unfor­tu­nate point. Berlin basi­cal­ly calls the shots in Europe these days.

    So it’s going to be inter­est­ing to see what, if any, col­lec­tive action Berlin can suc­cess­ful­ly achieve as the cri­sis con­tin­ues to unfold. Although keep in mind that the col­lec­tive action might most­ly involve deport­ing refugees from the non-bor­der EU states like Ger­many to the bor­der EU states like Italy:

    The Telegraphs
    Dis­cord in Ger­man gov­ern­ment as Syr­i­an refugees to be deport­ed to oth­er EU coun­tries copy
    Ger­many in U‑turn on Dublin sys­tem for refugees as inte­ri­or min­is­ter gives order to start deport­ing asy­lum seek­ers back to EU state they first entered

    By Justin Hug­gler in Berlin

    2:46PM GMT 11 Nov 2015

    Ger­many is to start deport­ing Syr­i­an refugees after rein­stat­ing EU rules under which they must claim asy­lum in the first mem­ber state they enter.

    But there was fresh dis­cord in Chan­cel­lor Angela Merkel’s gov­ern­ment after it emerged Thomas de Maiziere, the inte­ri­or min­is­ter, had ordered the mea­sure with­out con­sult­ing col­leagues.

    It is the sec­ond time Mr de Maiziere has been accused of act­ing uni­lat­er­al­ly in less than a week.

    Mrs Merkel’s office had to inter­vene at the week­end to block an ear­li­er unau­tho­rised attempt by him to lim­it asy­lum for Syr­i­ans.

    There is no indi­ca­tion that Mrs Merkel dis­ap­proves of the lat­est mea­sure, but her coali­tion part­ners com­plained they were not even informed..

    Sev­er­al Social Demo­c­rat MPs report­ed­ly thought the new order was a joke when it was announced on Tues­day evening.

    “This is a com­mu­ni­ca­tions dis­as­ter,” Burkhard Lis­ch­ka, the party’s home affairs spokesman, said.

    “We’ll look at Mr de Maiziere’s lat­est announce­ment objec­tive­ly and eval­u­ate it on its own mer­it, Thorsten Schäfer-Güm­bel, the party’s deputy chair­man, told Pas­sauer Neue Presse news­pa­per.

    “What does not work is the zero com­mu­ni­ca­tion from the inte­ri­or min­is­ter.”

    The move also came as a sur­prise to MPs from Mrs Merkel’s own Chris­t­ian Demo­c­rat par­ty, with many learn­ing of it for the first time from their smart­phones in the mid­dle of a par­ty meet­ing, accord­ing to Spiegel mag­a­zine.

    Mr de Maiziere defend­ed him­self, claim­ing the rein­state­ment of the EU’s con­tro­ver­sial Dublin rules for Syr­i­ans was agreed last month.

    Under the rules, refugees are sup­posed to claim asy­lum in the first EU mem­ber state they reach, and can be deport­ed if they trav­el to anoth­er.

    Germany’s deci­sion to sus­pend the rules in the sum­mer was the first pub­lic indi­ca­tion of the “open-door” refugee pol­i­cy that has seen Mrs Merkel’s approval rat­ings plum­met in recent weeks.

    Crit­ics have claimed the move encour­aged many more asy­lum-seek­ers to trav­el to Europe.

    The return to the rules will be seen as a sign Mrs Merkel is chang­ing course, but it is expect­ed to have lit­tle impact on the num­bers stream­ing into Ger­many.

    Pri­vate­ly, gov­ern­ment offi­cials expect as few as 3 per cent of the Syr­i­an refugees in the coun­try can be deport­ed under the rules.

    Most of those arriv­ing Ger­many have nev­er reg­is­tered in oth­er coun­tries, mean­ing there is no evi­dence of where they first entered the EU.

    And a long­stand­ing Ger­man court rul­ing means the coun­try can­not deport refugees to Greece, where the major­i­ty of Syr­i­ans first arrive, because of poor con­di­tions for asy­lum-seek­ers there.

    The Aus­tri­an gov­ern­ment wel­comed the move as a “return to sense”.

    ...

    Well, that does­n’t exact­ly seem like a solu­tion to...well, any­thing. But as far as lead­er­ship in the EU goes, that’s about as good as it’s going to get. And that means we should prob­a­bly expect a lot more sto­ries like this:

    Reuters
    Refugee haven Swe­den impos­es tem­po­rary bor­der con­trols in EU migra­tion cri­sis

    STOCKHOLM | By Alis­tair Scrut­ton and Niklas Pol­lard
    Wed Nov 11, 2015 4:36pm EST

    Swe­den will impose tem­po­rary bor­der con­trols from Thurs­day in response to a record influx of refugees, a turn­around for a coun­try known for its open-door poli­cies that also threw down the gaunt­let to oth­er EU nations hit by a migra­tion cri­sis.

    The deci­sion by a Nordic state that touts itself as a “human­i­tar­i­an super­pow­er” under­scored how the flow of refugees into the Euro­pean Union is strain­ing its prized sys­tem of open inter­nal bor­ders close to break­ing point.

    Ger­many warned it could start send­ing Syr­i­an refugees back to oth­er EU states from which they came, prompt­ing Hun­gary to insist it would take none, while Swe­den’s neigh­bor Den­mark said it was tight­en­ing immi­gra­tion rules and Slove­nia began to emu­late Budapest in erect­ing new bor­der fences.

    Swe­den has wel­comed more asy­lum-seek­ing refugees and migrants per capi­ta than any oth­er EU coun­try and author­i­ties fore­cast that up to 190,000 asy­lum seek­ers could arrive this year, dou­ble the pre­vi­ous record from the ear­ly 1990s.

    “Our sig­nal to the rest of the EU is crys­tal clear — Swe­den is the coun­try that has shoul­dered the great­est respon­si­bil­i­ty for the refugee cri­sis,” Inte­ri­or Min­is­ter Anders Yge­man told a news con­fer­ence hasti­ly called by the cen­ter-left gov­ern­ment.

    “If we are to cope with this mutu­al chal­lenge, the oth­er coun­tries must take their respon­si­bil­i­ty.”

    Swe­den’s bor­der con­trols will pri­mar­i­ly extend to the bridge across the Ore­sund strait sep­a­rat­ing Swe­den and Den­mark and fer­ry ports in the region. They will be imposed from Thurs­day for a peri­od of 10 days and could be extend­ed by 20-day peri­ods.

    ...

    In Berlin, Finance Min­is­ter Wolf­gang Schaeu­ble described Ger­many’s refugee cri­sis as being like an avalanche. Chan­cel­lor Angela Merkel has come under fierce pres­sure since offer­ing shel­ter to close to a mil­lion asy­lum-seek­ers this year.

    “Avalanch­es can be caused if a care­less ski­er ... sets some snow on the move,” Schaeu­ble told an event on Euro­pean inte­gra­tion held in Berlin. “Whether we are at the stage where the avalanche has already reached the val­ley below, or whether we are at the stage at the top of the slope, I don’t know.”

    TENTS FOR REFUGEES

    Swe­den’s gov­ern­ment had warned last week that it could no longer guar­an­tee find­ing accom­mo­da­tion for new­ly-arrived refugees. The minor­i­ty gov­ern­ment has faced pres­sure also from the cen­ter-right oppo­si­tion and far-right, anti-immi­grant Swe­den Democ­rats — who are ris­ing in polls — to tight­en up on refugees.

    The Swedish Migra­tion Agency already plans to shel­ter thou­sands of refugees in heat­ed tents due to a hous­ing short­age, while some peo­ple may be accom­mo­dat­ed in venues such as ski resorts and a theme park.

    Some 10,000 refugees arrived last week, and 2,000 in one day — both records for Swe­den. Com­pound­ing con­cerns, there have been more than a dozen sus­pect­ed arson attacks on build­ings ear­marked for refugees in the last few months.

    “The fact the we can see that hun­dreds of peo­ple now can’t be pro­vid­ed with a roof over their heads by the Migra­tion Agency and are forced to sleep out­doors or in rail­way sta­tions, that risks cre­at­ing threats to order and secu­ri­ty,” Yge­man said.

    Stock­holm has also applied to the Euro­pean Com­mis­sion to arrange for some of those to be moved to oth­er EU coun­tries.

    The U.N. refugee agency UNHCR said last week that refugees and migrants were like­ly to con­tin­ue to arrive in Europe at a rate of up to 5,000 per day via Turkey this win­ter.

    More than 760,000 peo­ple have crossed the Mediter­ranean to EU ter­ri­to­ry this year, enter­ing main­ly via Greece and Italy, after flee­ing wars in Syr­ia, Afghanistan and Iraq, as well as con­flicts and depri­va­tion in Eritrea, oth­er parts of Africa, the Mid­dle East and Asia, the U.N. agency says.

    “Ger­many warned it could start send­ing Syr­i­an refugees back to oth­er EU states from which they came, prompt­ing Hun­gary to insist it would take none, while Swe­den’s neigh­bor Den­mark said it was tight­en­ing immi­gra­tion rules and Slove­nia began to emu­late Budapest in erect­ing new bor­der fences.”

    Yep, that all hap­pened while Swe­den closed its bor­ders too. And at this point it’s unclear why even more bor­ders aren’t going to be closed since the entire EU appears to be engaged in a game of refugee Hot Pota­to and the cur­rent style lead­er­ship com­ing from Berlin involves rein­stat­ing a rule to let non-bor­der states toss those Hot Pota­toes back to the EU bor­der states.

    So let’s hope Swe­den gets all the heat­ed tents it needs. Or, actu­al­ly, let’s hope Swe­den gets sub­stan­tial­ly more heat­ed tents than its needs and then decides to share those tents with the rest of its EU neigh­bors. Because all those Hot Pota­toes flee­ing for their lives and trav­el­ing north to coun­tries like Swe­den and Ger­many might end up hit­ting a closed bor­der with no where to go are going to turn into frozen pota­toes flee­ing for their lives in a few months:

    Asso­ci­at­ed Press

    EU warns of refugee ‘cat­a­stro­phe’ as win­ter clos­es in

    By LORNE COOK

    Nov 9, 2:07 PM EST

    BRUSSELS (AP) — The Euro­pean Union warned on Mon­day of a loom­ing human­i­tar­i­an “cat­a­stro­phe” with tens of thou­sands of peo­ple trav­el­ing through the Balka­ns to north­ern Europe as win­ter clos­es in.

    More than 770,000 peo­ple have arrived in the EU by sea so far this year, over­whelm­ing bor­der author­i­ties and recep­tion facil­i­ties. Many have made the ardu­ous land jour­ney on foot through the Balka­ns in search of sanc­tu­ary or work in coun­tries like Ger­many or Swe­den.

    The EU’s 28 mem­ber nations have pledged to pro­vide experts and funds to help man­age the emer­gency, and to share refugees among them.

    But the resources have been painful­ly slow in com­ing.

    “The Euro­pean Union must do every­thing to avoid a cat­a­stro­phe as win­ter clos­es in,” Lux­em­bourg For­eign Min­is­ter Jean Assel­born said after chair­ing the lat­est in a long series of high-lev­el talks on the chal­lenge. “We can­not let peo­ple die from the cold in the Balka­ns.”

    To help man­age the influx, EU bor­der agency Fron­tex has called for 775 extra offi­cers, but mem­ber states have so far only offered about half that amount. Slove­nia asked for 400 more police offi­cers with­in a week to help out. Almost three weeks lat­er, less than half has been pledged.

    ...

    French Inte­ri­or Min­is­ter Bernard Cazeneuve said that his coun­try had com­mit­ted to relo­cate 30,000 refugees “in com­ing weeks and months.”

    He also urged his EU part­ners to live up to their pledges and to enforce the rules in place on return­ing peo­ple who don’t qual­i­fy for asy­lum back to their home coun­tries.

    “Sol­i­dar­i­ty can’t work if we are not deter­mined enough to imple­ment the mea­sures that we have already agreed,” he said.

    “The Euro­pean Union must do every­thing to avoid a cat­a­stro­phe as win­ter clos­es in...We can­not let peo­ple die from the cold in the Balka­ns.”
    That’s a great sen­ti­ment, and hope­ful­ly cat­a­stro­phe will indeed be avoid­ed before win­ter. But it’s worth not­ing that, con­trary to the asser­tion that the EU can­not let peo­ple die from the cold, it real­ly can. All that has to hap­pen is for not enough to hap­pen:

    The Guardian
    Win­ter is com­ing: the new cri­sis for refugees in Europe

    From Les­bos to Lap­land, refugees are brac­ing for a win­ter chill that many will nev­er have expe­ri­enced before. Some will have to endure it out­side

    Words by Julian Borg­er and Andrew Mac­Dowall in Brežice, Amelia Gen­tle­man in Calais, Kate Con­nol­ly in Berlin, David Crouch in Gothen­burg, Frances Per­raudin in Les­bos, and Sofia Papadopoulou in Idomeni

    Mon­day 2 Novem­ber 2015 11.39 EST

    Record num­bers of migrants and refugees crossed the Mediter­ranean to Europe in Octo­ber – just in time for the advent of win­ter, which is already threat­en­ing to expose thou­sands to harsh con­di­tions.

    The lat­est UN fig­ures, which showed 218,000 made the per­ilous Mediter­ranean cross­ing last month, con­firm fears that the end of sum­mer has not stemmed the flow of refugees as has been the pat­tern in pre­vi­ous years, part­ly because of the sheer des­per­a­tion of those flee­ing an esca­lat­ing war in Syr­ia and oth­er con­flicts.

    The huge num­bers of peo­ple arriv­ing at the same time as win­ter is rais­ing fears of a new human­i­tar­i­an cri­sis with­in Europe’s bor­ders. Cold weath­er is com­ing to Europe at greater speed than its leadership’s abil­i­ty to make crit­i­cal deci­sions. A sum­mit of EU and Balkan states last week agreed some mea­sures for extra polic­ing and shel­ter for 100,000 peo­ple.

    But an esti­mat­ed 700,000 refugees and migrants, have arrived in Europe this year along unof­fi­cial and dan­ger­ous land and sea routes, from Syr­ia, Eritrea, Afghanistan, Iraq, north Africa and beyond. Tens of thou­sands, includ­ing the very young and the very old, find them­selves trapped in the open as the skies dark­en and the first night frosts take hold. Hypother­mia, pneu­mo­nia and oppor­tunis­tic dis­eases are the main threats now, along with the grow­ing des­per­a­tion of refugees try­ing to save the lives of their fam­i­lies.

    Fights have bro­ken out over blan­kets, and on occa­sion between dif­fer­ent nation­al groups. Now sex traf­fick­ers are fol­low­ing the columns of refugees, pick­ing off young unac­com­pa­nied strag­glers.

    The Unit­ed Nations refugee agency, UNHCR, is dis­trib­ut­ing out­door sur­vival pack­ages, includ­ing sleep­ing bags, blan­kets, rain­coats, socks, clothes and shoes, but the num­ber of peo­ple it can reach is lim­it­ed by its fund­ing, which has so far been severe­ly inad­e­quate. Vol­un­teer agen­cies have tried to fill the gap­ing hole in human­i­tar­i­an pro­vi­sions in Europe.

    Peter Bouck­aert, the direc­tor of emer­gen­cies for Human Rights Watch, said that all the way along the route into Europe through the Balka­ns “there is vir­tu­al­ly no human­i­tar­i­an response from Euro­pean insti­tu­tions, and those in need rely on the good will of vol­un­teers for shel­ter, food, clothes, and med­ical assis­tance.”

    Europe has found itself ill-pre­pared to deal with its biggest influx of refugees since the sec­ond world war. It is hur­ried­ly impro­vis­ing new mech­a­nisms so that it can respond col­lec­tive­ly as a con­ti­nent rather than indi­vid­ual nations, but it is a race against time and the ele­ments – a race Europe is not guar­an­teed to win.

    “There is a risk of col­lapse,” said Fed­er­i­ca Mogheri­ni, the EU for­eign pol­i­cy chief. “Because when you’re fac­ing a chal­lenge and you don’t have the instru­ments to do it, you risk fail­ing. So it could be that if we don’t man­age to cre­ate com­mon instru­ments to deal with this on a Euro­pean lev­el, we fall back on the illu­sion that we can face it through nation­al instru­ments, which we see very clear­ly doesn’t work.

    Mogheri­ni added: “Either we take this big step and adapt … or yes, we do have a major cri­sis. I would say even an iden­ti­ty cri­sis.”

    ...

    “Either we take this big step and adapt … or yes, we do have a major cri­sis. I would say even an iden­ti­ty cri­sis.”
    Note that there’s already an iden­ti­ty cri­sis. At this point it’s most­ly a ques­tion of how the iden­ti­ty cri­sis ends up get­ting resolved.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | November 11, 2015, 7:30 pm
  7. Der Speigel has a piece on how the refugee cri­sis is cre­at­ing changes to Ger­many’s for­eign pol­i­cy that, in many cas­es, would have been unthink­able just a few months ago. In par­tic­u­lar, it’s look­ing like there’s going to a sig­nif­i­cant change in Ger­many’s will­ing­ness to engage in mil­i­tary action under the idea that solv­ing the crises in the coun­tries pro­duc­ing large num­bers of refugees is the best solu­tion to stem­ming the low of refugees, par­tic­u­lar­ly via the cre­ation of safe-haven areas in the coun­tries pro­duc­ing refugees:

    Der Speigel
    Bye Bye Merkel Doc­trine: Ger­man For­eign Pol­i­cy Shifts Focus to Refugees

    With the refugee cri­sis show­ing no signs of abat­ing, Ger­many is rapid­ly chang­ing its for­eign and secu­ri­ty pol­i­cy focus. Gone are the days of democ­ra­cy pro­mo­tion. Now the pri­ma­ry goal is that of pre­vent­ing peo­ple from migrat­ing to Europe.

    By SPIEGEL Staff

    Novem­ber 11, 2015 – 11:43 AM

    On the last Fri­day in Octo­ber, Ger­man Defense Min­is­ter Ursu­la von der Leyen found her­self in a gov­ern­ment jet fly­ing just out­side of Syr­i­an air­space. She was on the way to an inter­na­tion­al secu­ri­ty con­fer­ence in Bahrain for sev­er­al meet­ings. Her mis­sion: cri­sis diplo­ma­cy.

    Mean­while, diplo­mats from around the world were gath­ered in Vien­na to dis­cuss pos­si­ble ways in which the Syr­i­an civ­il war could be brought to an end — a con­flict that is the pri­ma­ry cause for the enor­mous wave of refugees cur­rent­ly crash­ing over Ger­many and the rest of Europe. While still in the air, Von der Leyen was receiv­ing hourly updates from the Vien­na gath­er­ing. She was hope­ful that a break­through could be reached so that she could con­tin­ue the search for a solu­tion in Bahrain.

    A few days pri­or, the min­is­ter had been in Iraq for talks in Bagh­dad and for a vis­it to the Kurds in the north of the coun­try. But now, the Gulf was on von der Leyen’s agen­da. Maps of the region were spread out on the table in front of her. Here, the Rus­sians are bomb­ing, and this is the area Islam­ic State has under its con­trol, she said, point­ing at the maps. It used to be that efforts aimed at paci­fy­ing glob­al cri­sis regions fell into the cat­e­go­ry of for­eign pol­i­cy. These days though, such trips are part of “refugee pol­i­cy,” as Ger­many attempts to address the roots of the prob­lem.

    Action Rather than Res­ig­na­tion

    It is a goal that the Ger­man gov­ern­ment has made its high­est for­eign and secu­ri­ty pol­i­cy pri­or­i­ty: That of ensur­ing that as few refugees as pos­si­ble embark on the long jour­ney to Ger­many. The pur­suit of that strat­e­gy has led to the launch of diplo­mat­ic ini­tia­tives, the ques­tion­ing of devel­op­ment pol­i­cy con­cepts, the sub­or­di­na­tion of long-held prin­ci­ples and the expan­sion of mil­i­tary mis­sions.

    The task is enor­mous. Europe, to bor­row the ver­nac­u­lar of mil­i­tary lead­ers, is sur­round­ed by a “ring of fire.” Across the Mediter­ranean, in North Africa and the Mid­dle East, there is an arc of cri­sis made up of col­laps­ing and pre­car­i­ous states, where a sim­ple self­ie with the Ger­man chan­cel­lor is enough to trig­ger thou­sands to begin a jour­ney to Europe in search of a bet­ter future.

    Because Europe can’t sim­ply cut itself off, accord­ing to the log­ic of Ger­man refugee pol­i­cy, much of the world must be trans­formed into a bet­ter place — an incred­i­bly ambi­tious goal that is a com­bi­na­tion of des­per­a­tion and mega­lo­ma­nia. “We have to restore state pow­er and sta­bil­i­ty in coun­tries like Syr­ia, Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya,” Min­is­ter von der Leyen said the week­end before last. Action, rather than com­plaint and res­ig­na­tion, is her mot­to, the min­is­ter has often been heard say­ing in recent weeks. If you just ener­get­i­cal­ly address a prob­lem, she believes, the for­ti­tude to solve it will appear by itself. It sounds, in oth­er words, as though Min­is­ter von der Leyen believes in mir­a­cles.

    ...

    Aban­don­ing the Merkel Doc­trine

    The reori­en­ta­tion of Ger­man for­eign pol­i­cy is an admis­sion of fail­ure. For years, Chan­cel­lor Angela Merkel pur­sued secu­ri­ty pol­i­cy by way of weapons exports and mil­i­tary train­ing mis­sions: The so-called Merkel Doc­trine. The goal, as Merkel described it in a 2011 speech, was to enable strate­gi­cal­ly impor­tant coun­tries to guar­an­tee their own secu­ri­ty. Merkel’s hope was that the strat­e­gy could pre­clude the need for Ger­many to become involved in unpop­u­lar mil­i­tary mis­sions abroad.

    Now, though, Berlin has aban­doned the Merkel Doc­trine. Instead, Ger­man mil­i­tary mis­sions are being planned, expand­ed or extend­ed from Mali to Iraq to Afghanistan — to a degree that nobody could have imag­ined just a few short months ago. With­in the short­est amount of time, a par­a­digm shift has tak­en place. “Three years ago, nobody thought we would have Ger­man troops in north­ern Iraq or Mali,” Geza Andreas von Geyr, direc­tor gen­er­al for secu­ri­ty and defense pol­i­cy at the Ger­man Defense Min­istry, said at a recent con­fer­ence of the Kon­rad Ade­nauer Stiftung in Berlin, a think tank close­ly aligned with Merkel’s con­ser­v­a­tive Chris­t­ian Demo­c­ra­t­ic Union (CDU) par­ty. Indeed, the Ger­man mil­i­tary is even look­ing into the pos­si­bil­i­ty of mak­ing Tor­na­do recon­nais­sance planes avail­able on the periph­ery of the Syr­i­an con­flict. The idea calls for them to mon­i­tor the air­space of NATO ally Turkey on its bor­der with Syr­ia — sim­i­lar to the air polic­ing mis­sion in the Baltic states.

    Among Chan­cel­lor Merkel’s cen­ter-right con­ser­v­a­tives, for­eign and secu­ri­ty pol­i­cy experts are lay­ing the polit­i­cal ground­work for a change of course. “For­eign and secu­ri­ty pol­i­cy must now be increas­ing­ly focused on com­bat­ting the caus­es of refugee flight,” says the con­ser­v­a­tives’ deputy floor leader Franz Josef Jung, who served as min­is­ter of defense from 2005 to 2009 in Merkel’s first gov­ern­ment. His par­ty col­league Roderich Kiesewet­ter, who is the lead­ing Chris­t­ian Demo­c­rat on the For­eign Affairs Com­mit­tee in Ger­man par­lia­ment, says: “We have to focus on being pre­pared so that cri­sis regions do not become new sources of refugees.”

    Resis­tance To Deploy­ments Is Shrink­ing

    Ger­man con­ser­v­a­tives are now rapid­ly try­ing to estab­lish the out­lines of a new for­eign and defense pol­i­cy doc­trine. The heart of the new con­cept will be Ger­many’s mil­i­tary. “The Bun­deswehr has to play an explic­it role,” says Jung. Train­ing police forces and mil­i­taries will remain an ele­ment of the approach, in the hopes of pre­vent­ing cri­sis-strick­en states from col­laps­ing. At the same time, though, the readi­ness to send Ger­man troops on robust mil­i­tary deploy­ments abroad is grow­ing — mis­sions with aims such as sep­a­rat­ing con­flict par­ties and pro­tect­ing refugee camps.

    Paci­fism has long been a crit­i­cal ele­ment of Ger­many’s approach to for­eign pol­i­cy, but that is chang­ing, with some par­lia­men­tar­i­ans hop­ing that pub­lic skep­ti­cism of Ger­man mil­i­tary mis­sions over­seas is on the wane. Jür­gen Hardt, for­eign pol­i­cy spokesman for the con­ser­v­a­tives in par­lia­ment, says, with hope: “Where­as a major­i­ty of Ger­mans used to be crit­i­cal of send­ing sol­diers abroad, accep­tance for more robust mil­i­tary mea­sures has recent­ly risen.” The view is sim­i­lar from with­in the Defense Min­istry. There is no longer a “knee-jerk no,” says one min­istry source.

    The most recent exam­ple is the aston­ish­ing lack of resis­tance to the exten­sion of the Bun­deswehr’s mis­sion in Afghanistan. Instead of com­plete­ly with­draw­ing to Kab­ul as had been planned, Ger­man troops, it was decid­ed in mid-Octo­ber, are now to remain in the north of the coun­try, con­tin­ue train­ing Afghan secu­ri­ty forces and do what they can to at least slow the advance of the Tal­iban. The ulti­mate hope is that of improv­ing liv­ing con­di­tions in Afghanistan such that tens of thou­sands of peo­ple there will no longer want to uproot and head for Europe.

    Safe Areas

    It is, of course, unlike­ly that the extend­ed pres­ence of a few thou­sand NATO troops will suc­ceed where 140,000 NATO troops, at the height of the Afghanistan oper­a­tion, failed. That’s why Berlin’s pri­ma­ry goal is that of ensur­ing that at least part of the coun­try remains safe enough that reject­ed asy­lum-seek­ers can rea­son­ably be deport­ed. Last Thurs­day, fol­low­ing a meet­ing with her two coali­tion part­ners — Sig­mar Gabriel from the Social Democ­rats and Horst See­hofer of the Chris­t­ian Social Union (CSU), the Bavar­i­an sis­ter par­ty to the CDU — Merkel said that “intra-state flight alter­na­tives” are to be cre­at­ed in Afghanistan. Chan­cellery Chief of Staff Peter Alt­maier spoke of pro­tec­tive areas. De fac­to, that means that parts of the war-torn coun­try are to be declared safe regions of ori­gin. Not long pri­or to the meet­ing, Merkel held a tele­phone con­ver­sa­tion with Afghan Pres­i­dent Ashraf Ghani to con­firm that there were, in fact, areas in Afghanistan safe enough for deport­ed refugees.

    Still, the idea of safe areas is a con­tro­ver­sial one with­in Merkel’s gov­ern­ing coali­tion. Devel­op­ment Min­is­ter Gerd Müller, of the CSU, says that such a plan could only be suc­cess­ful if it were it accom­pa­nied by mas­sive invest­ments in infra­struc­ture and edu­ca­tion. “A pure­ly mil­i­tary solu­tion will not work in the long term,” he said. SPD for­eign pol­i­cy expert Niels Annen warns: “Those demand­ing pro­tec­tion zones in Afghanistan are essen­tial­ly demand­ing the re-launch­ing of the mil­i­tary mis­sion at a much greater dimen­sion than before.”

    Vice Chan­cel­lor Sig­mar Gabriel, by con­trast, indi­cat­ed he was open to the idea fol­low­ing a meet­ing with SPD par­lia­men­tar­i­ans last Tues­day. “In the com­ing days, we will receive more refugees from Afghanistan than from Syr­ia,” he said. Con­ser­v­a­tive floor leader Volk­er Kaud­er is also a sup­port­er of the idea: “I think it is cor­rect to estab­lish safe zones in Afghanistan so that Afghans with­out the right to remain in Ger­many can return to secure areas of their home­land,” he says. Deputy floor leader Jung adds that the pro­tec­tion of such zones requires a well-trained and well-armed Afghan nation­al army. “That is why we should con­tin­ue our sup­port of the Afghan nation­al army and extend and expand the Res­olute Sup­port Mis­sion, in which the Bun­deswehr is a par­tic­i­pant,” Jung says. Con­ser­v­a­tive for­eign pol­i­cy spokesman Jür­gen Hardt adds that a plan must be devel­oped for how the Ger­man mil­i­tary, togeth­er with the Afghan army, can estab­lish the secu­ri­ty nec­es­sary in the safe zones.

    Expand­ing Efforts in Iraq and Africa

    But it’s not just in Afghanistan that Ger­many’s mil­i­tary has begun focus­ing on refugee pre­ven­tion. In Iraq, where the Bun­deswehr arms and trains Kur­dish Pesh­mer­ga fight­ers, the mil­i­tary would like to see its mis­sion expand­ed by 50 troops, a propo­si­tion that has been the sub­ject of high-lev­el dis­cus­sions between the Defense Min­istry and For­eign Min­istry in Berlin. In par­al­lel, the Ger­man mil­i­tary plans to deliv­er more arms to the Kurds and to expand its sup­port of the Iraqi gov­ern­ment in Bagh­dad. Ger­many hopes that push­ing back the Islam­ic State in Iraq will trans­late into few­er peo­ple flee­ing the coun­try for Europe.

    Defense Min­is­ter von der Leyen has used a sim­i­lar log­ic to jus­ti­fy the expan­sion of the Ger­man mis­sion in Mali. A Ger­man recon­nais­sance unit is to be sent into the unsta­ble north­ern part of the coun­try in sup­port of the UN peace­keep­ing mis­sion there, known as MINUSMA, in part because sev­er­al African refugee routes inter­sect in the region. Giv­en that com­bat units will be nec­es­sary to pro­tect the recon­nais­sance troops, Berlin plans to send a total of 400 to 500 Ger­man troops.

    By refer­ring to the need to fight the caus­es of the refugee cri­sis, the mis­sion will no doubt be much eas­i­er to sell to the Ger­man peo­ple. Ger­man For­eign Min­is­ter Frank-Wal­ter Stein­meier recent­ly said: “We have a great inter­est in help­ing Mali ful­fil its com­mit­ments: to its own peo­ple by way of guar­an­tee­ing secu­ri­ty, but also in the effec­tive com­bat­ting of orga­nized crime in the areas of drug traf­fick­ing and human smug­gling.”

    The Defense Min­istry is even con­sid­er­ing a mis­sion to the failed state of Libya. The idea fore­sees a NATO train­ing mis­sion to rebuild Libyan secu­ri­ty forces once the war­ring par­ties there come to agree­ment on the estab­lish­ment of a gov­ern­ment. Ger­man mil­i­tary lead­ers have no doubt that the Bun­deswehr would have to be a part of such a mis­sion. “As a lead­ing coun­try with­in the alliance, Berlin can no longer refuse,” one gen­er­al says. “A secure Libya would help slow the wave of refugees.”

    ‘We Only React When It’s Too Late’

    More aggres­sive Ger­man offi­cers go even fur­ther. Ger­man NATO Gen­er­al Hans-Lothar Dom­röse, respon­si­ble for cen­tral and north­ern Europe, spoke not long ago of a pos­si­ble alliance mis­sion in Syr­ia or Iraq. “It makes sense to mil­i­tar­i­ly stamp out our neigh­bors’ fires. Oth­er­wise, there is just mis­ery and mil­lions of peo­ple who begin flee­ing to us.”

    How­ev­er, sig­nif­i­cant dis­agree­ment remains with­in the Ger­man gov­ern­ment when it comes to using devel­op­ment aid as a tool to fight the refugee cri­sis. Inte­ri­or Min­is­ter Thomas de Maiz­ière would like to see the threat of for­eign aid reduc­tion as a way to pres­sure states to take back their cit­i­zens who have fled to Ger­many. Con­ser­v­a­tive floor leader Kaud­er agrees. “Con­nect­ing devel­op­ment aid to the require­ment that coun­tries take back those who have fled is the right thing to do,” he says.

    But the Devel­op­ment Min­istry is against it. “What ben­e­fit would it have to cut fund­ing to a girls’ school in Nige­ria, for exam­ple, or to an edu­ca­tion­al cen­ter in Ethiopia?” asks Müller. “The result would be even more refugees.” The min­is­ter is demand­ing that aid to coun­tries like Jor­dan and Lebanon, which are offer­ing shel­ter to an enor­mous num­ber of refugees, be sig­nif­i­cant­ly increased. “We are sit­ting on the side­lines as Lebanon founders instead of offer­ing the coun­try much more help in deal­ing with the refugee cri­sis. We only react when it’s already too late.”

    ...

    Rad­i­cal changes are also going to be made to the Euro­pean Neigh­bour­hood Pol­i­cy. The draft of the new Neigh­bour­hood Pol­i­cy, to be passed on Nov. 18, speaks of “new pri­or­i­ties” and of “draw­ing a line under the old way of doing things.” In the future, the top pri­or­i­ty will no longer be that of pro­mot­ing democ­ra­cy. Sta­bil­i­ty is the new focus. Spe­cial funds for “sup­port­ing refugees, com­bat­ing cri­sis and secu­ri­ty and sta­bil­i­ty pro­grams” are envi­sioned. A pro­gram called “Brain Cir­cu­la­tion” is to encour­age trained migrants to return to their home­lands.

    The price for the recal­i­bra­tion of Ger­many’s for­eign and secu­ri­ty poli­cies to focus on the refugee prob­lem is clear. The coun­try will have to be pre­pared for involve­ment in more, and more dan­ger­ous, mil­i­tary mis­sions abroad. Fur­ther­more, democ­ra­cy and the rule of law will fade fur­ther into the back­ground. Instead, sta­bil­i­ty takes prece­dence — even if, though it isn’t often dis­cussed, it means sup­port­ing dic­ta­tor­ships.

    “Where­as a major­i­ty of Ger­mans used to be crit­i­cal of send­ing sol­diers abroad, accep­tance for more robust mil­i­tary mea­sures has recent­ly risen.”
    Will the grow­ing pub­lic accep­tance of for­eign mil­i­tary action be sus­tain­able over time or is this a tem­po­rary blip? Well, if ‘solv­ing the con­flict there so the refugees don’t come here’ is the new mas­ter plan, we’re going to find out.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | November 13, 2015, 3:29 pm
  8. More recent events show a pos­si­bil­i­ty that right wing extrem­ism is gain­ing polit­i­cal supp­port in Ger­many. An arti­cle in Britain’s Dai­ly Mail had some inter­est­ing com­ments includ­ing:

    Germany’s domes­tic intel­li­gence chief, Hans-Georg Maassen, says: ‘What we’re see­ing is the street mobil­i­sa­tion of Right-wing extrem­ists, but also of some Left-wing extrem­ists who oppose those anti-immi­gra­tion groups.’

    Below are excepts from an arti­cle show­ing how Germany’s lib­eral Syr­ian Immi­gra­tion pol­icy is bring­ing out a strong Nation­al­ist anti-immi­grant reatc­tion that the police do not believe they can coun­ter­act.

    Fron­tex, the Euro­pean bor­der agency, and West­ern intel­li­gence ser­vices have sound­ed a sec­ond alarm. They warn that Islam­ic State jihadists are exploit­ing the refugee influx to slip into Europe.

    Demog­ra­phers at the Bavar­ian Asso­ci­a­tion of Munic­i­pal­i­ties say Ger­many faces a pop­u­la­tion time bomb. As migrants bring in wives and chil­dren, they warn that the num­ber of Mus­lims could rise from 5.8 mil­lion to 20 mil­lion by 2020, threat­en­ing the cul­ture of this once fierce­ly Chris­t­ian nation.

    A respect­ed TV sta­tion, N24, has report­ed that many new arrivals have already van­ished under the radar since enter­ing the coun­try. On three occa­sions in Sep­tem­ber, groups of young male migrants, thought to be non-Syr­i­ans try­ing to escape the atten­tion of immi­gra­tion or secu­rity ser­vices, have pulled the emer­gency brakes to stop trains tak­ing them to camps for reg­is­tra­tion, then jumped out and van­ished. Mean­while, Ger­man police say they are inves­ti­gat­ing 60 cas­es in which Islam­ic extrem­ists, some pos­ing as char­ity work­ers, have infil­trated migrant camps to recruit migrants to jihad.

    It is bit­terly iron­ic that post­war Ger­many, still bat­tling with nation­al guilt over the Nazi slaugh­ter of six mil­lion Jews in the Holo­caust, is import­ing so many peo­ple who are avowed­ly anti-Semit­ic.

    ‘We are import­ing Islam­ic extrem­ism, Arab anti-Semi­tism, nation­al and eth­nic con­flicts of oth­er peo­ples, as well as a dif­fer­ent under­stand­ing of soci­ety and law.’

    Those views were echoed by Josef Schus­ter, pres­i­dent of the Cen­tral Coun­cil of Ger­man Jews, this week. In a care­ful state­ment, he said: ‘Many flee from Islam­ic State ter­ror to live in peace and free­dom. At the same time they come from cul­tures in which a hatred of Jews and intol­er­ance is a fixed ele­ment. Don’t only think of Jews, think of the equal­ity of woman and man or deal­ings with homo­sex­u­als.’

    Mean­while, Jur­gen Mannke, direc­tor of the Teach­ers’ Asso­ci­a­tion of Sax­ony-Anhalt, in cen­tral Ger­many, has said girls must be warned against con­sort­ing with Mus­lim migrants. He wrote in a mag­a­zine: ‘It is our human duty to help peo­ple who are fac­ing exis­ten­tial dis­tress due to war and polit­i­cal per­se­cu­tion. ‘But it is extreme­ly dif­fi­cult to dis­tin­guish who comes to our coun­try for pure­ly eco­nomic or even crim­i­nal motives. From our eth­i­cal and moral per­spec­tive, women are not treat­ed equal­ly or with dig­nity in Mus­lim coun­tries. Already, we hear . . . about sex­ual harass­ment on pub­lic trans­port and in super­mar­kets.

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3337002/Migrant-blunder-splitting-Germany-two-Weeks-ago-Merkel-threw-open-Germany-s-doors-Today-amid-fears-s-importing-anti-Semitism-worry-way-life-threat.html#ixzz3sjuxq8jn

    In anoth­er arti­cle, the new Riot Police’s hel­mets in Bavaria, Ger­many have been styled to retain a Nazi char­ac­ter to them. Is this a coin­ci­dence, or does it sym­bol­ize a polit­i­cal force of Nazism begin­ning to take hold in Ger­many? See arti­cle which makes light of the issue by com­par­ing it to Darth Vader’s hel­met:

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3336727/It-s-police-FORCE-German-riot-officers-mocked-new-uniform-s-helmets-make-look-like-Darth-Vader.html

    Posted by TBD | November 29, 2015, 12:26 pm
  9. With the EU reach­ing a deal with Turkey where Turkey receives 3 bil­lion euros in EU aid and polit­i­cal con­ces­sions in exchange for Turkey agree­ing to slow the flow of refugees, it’s worth not­ing that Amnesty Inter­na­tion­al just issued a report warn­ing of an alarm­ing new trend in Turkey’s han­dling of refugees that appears to have begun in recent months and would indeed help Turkey make good on its pledge to stem the refugee flow: Send­ing them back to the war zones:

    Quartz
    A damn­ing Amnesty report claims Turkey abused refugees and pres­sured some to return to war zones

    Writ­ten by Aam­na Mohdin
    12/16/2015

    Turkey has been accused of abus­ing hun­dreds of refugees and asy­lum seek­ers, and even pres­sur­ing some to return to war zones.

    The damn­ing report by Amnesty Inter­na­tion­al describes a “less vis­i­ble human rights cri­sis” in Turkey, as a result of increased pres­sure from the EU to halt record flows of migra­tion. Amnesty accus­es Turkey of ille­gal­ly detain­ing refugees, deny­ing them com­mu­ni­ca­tion with the out­side world, and pres­sur­ing some to return to the coun­tries they fled, “in vio­la­tion of Turk­ish and inter­na­tion­al law.”

    Amnesty doc­u­ment­ed three cas­es of phys­i­cal abuse in deten­tion cen­ters, and has col­lect­ed numer­ous tes­ti­monies of ill-treat­ment from refugees. These human-rights vio­la­tions are a “new devel­op­ment,” accord­ing to Amnesty, which says they began in Sep­tem­ber 2015. Turkey has brushed off the alle­ga­tions as false; a Turk­ish gov­ern­ment offi­cial told Agence France-Presse: “We cat­e­gor­i­cal­ly deny that any Syr­i­an refugees were forced to return to Syr­ia.”

    The coun­try had pre­vi­ous­ly been wide­ly praised for its response to the refugee cri­sis. Tens of thou­sands of Syr­i­an refugees were cross­ing into neigh­bor­ing Turkey as the civ­il war rav­aging their coun­try inten­si­fied. A year ago the UN High Com­mis­sion­er for Refugees count­ed over 1.6 mil­lion refugees, most­ly Syr­i­an, in Turkey, and pre­dict­ed that num­ber to rise to around 1.9 mil­lion by now. Turkey has strug­gled to cope with the influx; hun­dreds of thou­sands have inad­e­quate hous­ing, edu­ca­tion and health­care. This was reflect­ed in oth­er refugee camps, par­tic­u­lar­ly in Jor­dan, as UNHCR announced a $3.47 bil­lion fund­ing gap in June 2015.

    With lit­tle chance of work (Turkey doesn’t allow them to) and the wors­en­ing con­di­tions in the camps, hun­dreds of thou­sands of refugees have flocked to Europe—nearly 220,000 refugees and asy­lum seek­ers arrived in Europe by sea in Octo­ber alone.

    To stem the flow, the EU turned back to Turkey. An EU-Turkey migra­tion deal was signed at a spe­cial sum­mit last month (Nov. 29), in which mem­ber states offered Turkey €3 bil­lion ($3.4 bil­lion) in aid and fur­ther nego­ti­a­tions on Turkey join­ing the EU, which had pre­vi­ous­ly been post­poned. Germany’s chan­cel­lor, Angela Merkel, empha­sized Turkey’s impor­tant role in her lat­est speech defend­ing her refugee pol­i­cy.

    Amnesty’s report, how­ev­er, calls on the EU to stop this “reck­less­ness” and sus­pend its deal with Turkey, which it accus­es of using EU mon­ey to fund an unlaw­ful deten­tion and return pro­gram.

    “By engag­ing Turkey as a gate­keep­er for Europe in the refugee cri­sis, the EU is in dan­ger of ignor­ing and now encour­ag­ing seri­ous human rights vio­la­tions,” John Dal­huisen, Amnesty International’s direc­tor for Europe and Cen­tral Asia, said in a state­ment.

    ...

    “By engag­ing Turkey as a gate­keep­er for Europe in the refugee cri­sis, the EU is in dan­ger of ignor­ing and now encour­ag­ing seri­ous human rights vio­la­tions”
    Yep. And it’s not just the EU:

    swissinfo.ch
    Swiss nego­ti­at­ing send­ing refugees back to Turkey

    Dec 13, 2015 — 15:54

    Swiss migra­tion author­i­ties are nego­ti­at­ing an agree­ment where­in Turkey would take back refugees who had trav­elled to Switzer­land via their coun­try, accord­ing to Mario Gat­tik­er, head of the State Sec­re­tari­at for Migra­tion SEM.

    Gat­tik­er told Swiss pub­lic tele­vi­sion, SRF, on Sat­ur­day that in exchange for tak­ing back cer­tain indi­vid­u­als, Turkey would receive €3 bil­lion (CHF3.2 bil­lion) in finan­cial aid and facil­i­tat­ed entry into Switzer­land for its cit­i­zens.

    “The goal is to be able to reg­u­late that a cit­i­zen or a third-coun­try nation­al, such as a Syr­i­an, can be sent back if they entered Switzer­land ille­gal­ly, if the case meets the require­ments of the agree­ment,” Gat­tik­er said.

    If con­clud­ed, the agree­ment with Turkey would be one of 40 such agree­ments in place between Switzer­land and oth­er coun­tries.

    The nego­ti­a­tions are going for­ward despite the fact that Turkey is not offi­cial­ly on the list of “safe coun­tries” – in oth­er words, a place where peo­ple are free from per­se­cu­tion. How­ev­er, Gat­tik­er said that every case would be analysed – as is already done cur­rent­ly – to see whether the threat of per­se­cu­tion exists for the per­son being sent to Turkey.

    Gat­tik­er defend­ed the strat­e­gy by argu­ing that it’s best for refugees to stay in the region of the world that they came from.

    “They only [leave the area] if they have no oth­er options, no more food and end up on the streets,” he said, explain­ing that work­ing with Turkey would allow for a reduc­tion in migra­tion from the region.

    “They only [leave the area] if they have no oth­er options, no more food and end up on the streets”
    You have to won­der how a qui­et new “go back to the war zone” pol­i­cy from Turkey is going to impact Europe’s refugee cri­sis. And if Turkey isn’t able to slow the flow down enough to stem Europe’s refugee pan­ic, you have to won­der what’s next on the agen­da.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | December 16, 2015, 2:39 pm

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