• 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
The Local List
Six ways to make this Munich summer one to remember
The Kocherlball in the English Garden. Photo: DPA

At a loss for what to do with the warm months in Munich this year? These six attractions have to go on your summer bucket list.

Brexit vote
Germans rally on Twitter to show love for UK
Photo: DPA

Twitter was swamped with tributes after Germany's largest liberal newspaper asked readers to show some love for Britain despite its vote to leave the EU.

German kidnaps Swiss child, raising online gaming fears
File photo: Rachel Johnson / Flickr Creative Commons.

A 12-year-old Swiss boy was allegedly abused by a German man he first met online.

'Hero' refugee hands in €150,000 he found in wardrobe
Muhannad and the secondhand wardrobe. Photo: Minden Police.

A refugee from Syria found a huge stash of money in a secondhand wardrobe he bought. But keeping it for himself would have been a betrayal of his religion, he said.

Istanbul airport bombing
Flights from Berlin to Istanbul cancelled after terror attack
Turkish police block the road after an suicide bomb attack at Atatürk Airport in Istanbul. Photo: EPA.

All flights from Berlin's Tegel airport to Istanbul have been cancelled after a suicide bomb attack killed at least 36 people in the city's major airport.

German extremist groups 'getting bigger, more brutal'
A violent demo in Frankfurt in 2015. Photo: DPA

Political extremism rose sharply in Germany last year - among far-right but also far-left and Islamist radical groups - the domestic intelligence agency said Tuesday.

Berlin puts spies on tighter leash after NSA scandal
An installation of the BND in Bavaria. Photo: DPA

Germany on Tuesday approved new measures to rein in the activities of its foreign intelligence agency after a scandal over improper collusion with the US National Security Agency.

Brexit vote
There's no way back for Britain, says 'sad' Merkel
Angela Merkel (r) and David Cameron in Brussels. Photo: DPA

Chancellor Angela Merkel said at the EU summit in Brussels late on Tuesday that she didn't see any way that the British decision to leave the EU could be reversed.

Brexit vote
British business owner in Germany: why I support Brexit
Alexander McWhinney, owner of The English Shops. Photo: Private.

Scottish business owner Alexander McWhinney tells The Local why he supported the vote for a Brexit despite being an expat - much to the surprise of employees at his stores in the Rhineland.

Germany seeks seat on UN security council
The United Nations Security Council. Photo: DPA

Berlin last had a seat at the highest table of international security in 2011-12. Now the Foreign Minister has announced that Germany wants the role again.

Sponsored Article
Avoid hidden fees when sending money overseas
National
How to get German citizenship (or just stay forever)
Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
Technology
Brexit will turn Berlin into 'Europe’s startup capital'
International
'Germany needs to make UK come to its senses'
Sponsored Article
Education abroad: How to find an international school
Features
Six odd things Germans do in the summer
Sponsored Article
Health insurance for expats in Germany: a quick guide
Travel
These 10 little-known German towns are a must see
Features
How two gay dads cut through German red tape to start a family
National
Five things to know about guns in Germany
Sponsored Article
US expats: Taxes are due June 15th
Culture
10 things you need to know before attending a German wedding
National
Eight weird habits you'll pick up living in Germany
Lifestyle
Six reasons 'super-cool' Berlin isn't all it's cracked up to be
Society
Only one country likes getting naked on the beach more than Germany
Lifestyle
23 ridiculously fascinating things you never knew about Berlin
Culture
8 German words that perfectly sum up your 20s
Lifestyle
Can't make it past the door at Berlin's most famous club? Help is at hand
Business & Money
Why Frankfurt could steal London's crown as Europe's finance capital
Features
6 surprising things I learned about Germany while editing The Local
Culture
Five sure-fire ways to impress Germans with your manners
Features
6 reasons Germany's summer is unbeatable for thrill-seekers
National
The future belongs to these 10 German regions
7,865
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd