• Germany's news in English
 
app_header_v3
Merkel accused of cynicism on refugee route closure
Angela Merkel. Photo: DPA

Merkel accused of cynicism on refugee route closure

AFP · 11 Mar 2016, 17:26

Published: 11 Mar 2016 17:20 GMT+01:00
Updated: 11 Mar 2016 17:26 GMT+01:00

With three state elections looming Sunday, many see Merkel's conservative Christian Democrats (CDU) celebrating the sharp reduction of migrant arrivals from thousands to just dozens a day this week.

Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel of the centre-left Social Democrats put his finger on the problematic issue.

"Some in Germany are secretly rejoicing that the Balkan states are reducing the influx with border closures and, in a way, doing the dirty work for Germany," he told Bild daily this week.

Gabriel labelled this view "cynical" and said that, unless the EU finds a truly collective response, "refugees will look for new routes and in the end the Mediterranean will again become a mass grave."

Others have observed that Merkel can now continue to claim the moral high ground while, far away, tens of thousands of refugees are trapped in the mud of Greek tent cities.

"The chancellor has got lucky once again," judged the Neue Osnabruecker Zeitung daily. "The ugly images are from outside Germany.

"All this has happened against the officially declared will of Angela Merkel, who at the EU summit on Monday still resisted wording that declared the Balkans route closed.

"Now the Balkan countries have created facts on the ground. And yet Merkel can just lean back for now. Declining refugee numbers are a relief for the CDU before the state elections."

Bavarian state premier Horst Seehofer -- who has harshly criticised Merkel for allowing in over one million asylum seekers last year -- has stated bluntly that Germany was the "main beneficiary" of the closure of the Balkans transit route.

Good cop, bad cop

Merkel's image changed dramatically last September from eurozone austerity champion to protector of refugees after she opened German borders to a mass influx of people fleeing war and poverty.

The historic migrant wave has earned Merkel much praise but also sparked a right-wing populist backlash expected to take a toll on her CDU at the ballot box on Sunday.

While Merkel has campaigned for EU "solidarity" in sharing the refugee burden, Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere has taken a harder line, pioneering ways to reduce the influx though tightening asylum laws and declaring North African nations safe countries of origin.

De Maiziere in Brussels this week openly hailed the reduced refugee numbers, saying "the days of just having them through are over".

The opposition Greens party also criticised what at times appears like a good cop, bad cop routine as a "contradiction within the federal government".

"You really have to say that it's cynical to on the one hand celebrate the arrival of fewer refugees while also criticising the border closures and unilateral actions of some countries," said Luise Amtsberg, the party's spokeswoman of refugee issues.

"It's clear that this doesn't fit the position which the chancellor is representing to the outside."

'Evil bouncers'

Elsewhere in Europe, many have long accused Merkel of accelerating the influx with her open-door policy, symbolised by posing for "selfies" with migrants.

Story continues below…

Slovenian Prime Minister Miro Cerar rejected Germany's criticism that his country had acted "unilaterally", while accusing it of double standards.

"We note a strange discrepancy between what the government says in public and what is de facto happening at the German borders," he told Die Welt daily.

"On the one hand, Berlin says Germany's borders remain open to refugees. On the other hand, for some time now, there have been ... entry restrictions on Germany's borders."

Austrian Chancellor Werner Faymann has also complained about a split in German position on refugees where "some say they should come, and the interior minister tells Austria to stop waving them through".

Austria's tabloid Kronen Zeitung attacked Germany more bluntly, asking: "Why don't you start an 'airlift of hearts' and send the fattest jets in your Lufthansa fleet to Athens and Istanbul?

"But please don't force us Austrians, Slovenians, Czechs, Slovaks, Hungarians, Serbs and Macedonians any longer into the very awkward role of the evil bouncer at the entrance to your multicultural land of plenty."

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

Today's headlines
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.

Giant 2-metre catfish attacks woman in Bavarian lake
A wels catfish. Photo: DPA

When a young woman went for a swim in an idyllic south Bavarian region, she got more than she bargained for.

Mayor fires refugee project intern for wearing headscarf
File photo: DPA.

A Palestinian who was hired to work as an intern on a refugee project was fired by a town hall this week because she wouldn't take off her headscarf.

President who pioneered Moscow ties dies aged 97
Former Cold War President of West Germany Walter Scheel. Photo: DPA.

Former West German president Walter Scheel, who helped pave the way for his country's rapprochement with the communist East, has died aged 97, his party's spokesman said on Wednesday.

Former East to lag behind West for years to come: study
Poverty in eastern Germany. File photo: DPA

Eastern Germany remains economically anaemic with little prospect of catching up with the rest of the country by 2030, a study published on Wednesday said.

Turkey's spy network in Germany 'thicker than Stasi's'
Photo: DPA.

Turkey has around 6,000 informants working in Germany, which experts say means they're each monitoring more people than the Stasi did in West Germany during the Cold War.

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
8,566
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd