• Germany's news in English
 
app_header_v3
Focus
Merkel isolated as allies slam door on refugees
German chancellor Angela Merkel will struggle to pull the deal she wants from her European partners. Photo. Roland Weihrauch/dpa

Merkel isolated as allies slam door on refugees

AFP/The Local · 14 Feb 2016, 08:43

Published: 14 Feb 2016 08:43 GMT+01:00

Merkel is battling for a deal that will see refugees more evenly spread around the European Union after Germany welcomed 1.1 million asylum seekers last year.

But instead, eastern European countries are planning new razor wire fences, and even Paris -- traditionally Berlin's closest EU ally -- has shown little enthusiasm for Merkel's welcome policy.

French Prime Minister Manuel Valls said Saturday that the mood in France was "not favourable" to Merkel's call for a permanent quota system.

"Europe cannot take in all the migrants from Syria, Iraq or Africa," Valls told German media. "It has to regain control over its borders, over its migration or asylum policies."

US Secretary of State John Kerry praised Merkel for showing "great courage in helping so many who need so much" amid "the gravest humanitarian crisis in Europe since World War II".

But he also told the Munich Security Conference that the mass influx spells a "near existential... threat to the politics and fabric of life in Europe".
 
Another guest in Munich, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, took a far darker view, charging that "it's quite simply stupid to open Europe's doors wide and invite in everyone who wants to come to your country".
   
"European migration policy is a total failure, all that is absolutely frightening," he told the Handelsblatt daily.
 
A number of EU nations that were once in Russia's Cold War orbit seem to agree. Hungary, Poland, the Czech Republic and Slovakia plan to meet Monday to discuss how to close down the main refugee route through the Balkans, reported Germany's Spiegel news weekly.
   
"As long as there is no common European strategy, it is legitimate that the nations along the Balkans route protect their borders," Slovak Foreign Minister Miroslav Lajcak told the magazine.
   
He also opposed Merkel's plan for an EU quota system, saying "quotas only increase the incentives for migration".    
 
At the other end of the route, Austria's foreign minister warned Macedonia on Friday that it should be ready to close its border to migrants coming up from Greece.
   
Vienna also plans to impose a cap on refugees and may start turning them away in the coming months.
 
Merkel, long dubbed the "Queen of Europe", has seen poll numbers drop at home, coalition members rebel and EU allies duck away as the refugee crisis has sparked deep discord and threatened the bloc's system of open borders.
   
She has pledged to reduce arrivals by more quickly turning away "economic refugees" and combating traffickers, including through a new NATO surveillance mission in the Aegean Sea.
   
Meanwhile, her government has urged fellow Europeans to remember their core humanitarian values.
   
"How can a continent of 500 million citizens see its foundations shaken... by 1.5 million or 2 million refugees?" said Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen in Munich.
   
Merkel said Friday there was "a group of countries" that may voluntarily accept more refugees in exchange for redoubled efforts from Turkey to tackle illegal immigration.
   
She did not name the members, but at a EU summit in December, Germany gathered officials from Austria, Belgium, Finland, Greece, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Sweden.
Story continues below…
   
Merkel is planning to bring together what the media have dubbed a "coalition of the willing" on the margins of a two-day EU summit in Brussels starting Thursday.
 
She suggested its members could help Turkey's refugee effort beyond the three billion euros ($3.3 billion) already committed by the EU. Turkey, which is hosting over 2.7 million mostly Syrian refugees, has voiced deep frustration with the EU as a fresh wave of Syrian refugees mass on its border.
   
Angry over calls that Turkey should do more, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said last week that his nation could throw out its existing refugees, threatening to fly and bus them to Europe.
   
"We do not have the word 'idiot' written on our foreheads," he said. "We will be patient, but we will do what we have to. Don't think that the planes and the buses are there for nothing."
 

For more news from Germany, join us on Facebook and Twitter.

AFP/The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Today's headlines
Poland criticizes Germany’s 'self-serving' foreign policy
Witold Waszczykowski. Photo: DPA

The Polish foreign minister has said that Germany all too often follows its own interests at the expense of its partners, as Chancellor Angela Merkel prepares to visit Warsaw.

Vast majority of Germans in favour of burqa ban: poll
Women wearing niqab veils in Saudi Arabia. Photo: DPA.

A survey found that the vast majority of respondents were in favour of Germany passing a ban on the full-body veil sometimes worn by Muslim women.

Czech police detain driver for harassing Merkel's motorcade
Angela Merkel. File photo: DPA

Czech police arrested a man on Thursday for attempting to drive into the motorcade of visiting German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Prague, they said.

Teacher convicted for holding kids back after class
Photo: DPA

A music teacher from North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW) has been found guilty of "holding people against their will" after he made some naughty stay kids back after class.

Germany-denying beauty king fights cops with guns, teeth
Left: Adrian Ursache in his glam days as the 1998 Mr. Germany. Right: Police trying to evict him from his own 'country'. Photos: DPA.

Former Mr. Germany winner and founder of a group that denies the existence of Germany refused to be evicted, provoking a shootout - and bite-out - with police.

Politicians renew call to bring Snowden to Germany
Photo: GUARDIAN / GLENN GREENWALD / LAURA POITRAS.

Green and Die Linke (Left Party) politicians are asking that NSA surveillance whistleblower Edward Snowden be allowed into Germany for an ongoing investigation.

Merkel urged to address Turkmenistan rights record
Angela Merkel with Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov. Photo: DPA

Human Rights Watch on Thursday urged Chancellor Angela Merkel to bring up major rights violations, including a "policy of disappearances", when Germany hosts the president of Turkmenistan next week.

Epic father-daughter comedy picked for Oscars success
A scene from film Toni Erdmann. Photo: DPA

German Films has chosen Toni Erdmann, a beefy comedy about a father's struggle to save his daughter from her isolating career, as its 2017 Oscars choice.

Germany mulls pullout from Turkish airbase: report
A German Tornado jet at the Incirlik base in Turkey. Photo: Bundeswehr/DPA.

Germany's military is preparing to pull out from a Turkish airbase as a row between the two NATO partners escalates, Der Spiegel magazine reported on Thursday.

German man arrested over Bali meth lab
Bali. Photo: DPA

A German man has been arrested on Indonesia's Bali island for allegedly making crystal methamphetamine in a secret lab, officials said Thursday, with authorities seizing bags of powders and bottles used to produce the drug.

Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
Gallery
Germany's 17 Olympic gold medals in pictures
Sponsored Article
Why expats choose international health insurance
Culture
7 American habits that make Germans very, very uncomfortable
Rhineland
Story of a fugitive cow who outwitted police for weeks before capture
Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
Culture
Eleven famous Germans with surnames that'll make your sides split
Sponsored Article
Life in Jordan: 'Undiscovered treasure'
Lifestyle
The best ways to get a visa as an American in Germany
14 facts you never knew about the Brandenburg Gate
Society
Ten times Germans proved they really, really love beer
Sponsored Article
Why Jordan is the ‘Different’ East
Lifestyle
What's on in Germany: events for August 2016
Sponsored Article
Five things Americans should know about voting abroad
National
Six things you need to know when moving to Germany
Travel
These 10 little-known German towns are a must see
Sponsored Article
Jordan Pass: your ticket to the experience of a lifetime
International
German scientists prove birds can sleep while flying
Sponsored Article
Jordan: where history meets adventure
Technology
London v. Berlin: Which is better for startups?
Lifestyle
13 mortifying mistakes German learners always make
Sponsored Article
6 reasons expats use TransferWise to send money
Travel
Enter if you dare: Berlin's best abandoned haunts
Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
Lifestyle
10 rookie errors all Brits make when they arrive in Germany
Sponsored Article
Five things Americans should know about voting abroad
National
How to get German citizenship (or just stay forever)
Sponsored Article
Jordan: where history meets adventure
Technology
Brexit will turn Berlin into 'Europe’s startup capital'
Sponsored Article
6 reasons expats use TransferWise to send money
Travel
Six soothing day trips to escape the bustle of Berlin
International
'Germany needs to make UK come to its senses'
Features
Six odd things Germans do in the summer
Features
How two gay dads cut through German red tape to start a family
8,546
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd