• Germany's news in English

Refugee crisis: Merkel warns of war in Balkans

Jörg Luyken · 3 Nov 2015, 09:15

Published: 03 Nov 2015 09:15 GMT+01:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Speaking at a conference in Darmstadt in southern Germany, Merkel said that if Germany closed its border to Austria it could result in military conflict, reports Spiegel.

Merkel said that the fence built by Hungary on its border with Serbia "will build up fault lines“ between the states in the Balkan region, many of whom were involved in a bloody war in the 1990s.

"I don't want to it to happen that military conflict is once again necessary there,“ Merkel said, adding that while she didn't want to be a harbinger of doom, escalations into violence happen more quickly than one thinks.

The chancellor said that a rise in tension between Balkan states is what led her to recently call a conference to discuss the refugee routes through the region.

The danger is that if Germany closes its border then these countries will do likewise, she continued.

Merkel added that it was Germany's responsibility, as the largest state in the EU, to find a resolution to the problem that encourages solidarity rather than division.

"I am pretty sure we can achieve that,“ said the Chancellor.

Merkel's warning 'dramaticized'

Dr. Jochen Töpfer, expert in South European politics at Berlin's Free University, told The Local that Merkel's comments are somewhat "dramatized.“

"I don't think that building border fences would directly cause [military confrontation],“ he said. "These states are trying to get into the EU and they want to present a good image of themselves."

Merkel is most likely trying to create a fear among the Balkan countries that stops them before they take the decision to erect barriers along their borders, he added.

But Töpfer also cautioned that one shouldn't downplay the deteriorating situation in the Balkan region, emphasizing that the wars of the 1990s are "dormant rather than solved."

There is a trend back towards nationalism in the region, which the EU has supported by funding nationalist rather than moderate political groupings, he asserts.

Story continues below…

"In these countries there is widespread poverty and a struggle over the few resources they have. If you suddenly add half a million refugees to this system you increase the tension that exists there."

Further coalition talks

On Thursday, Merkel is again scheduled to meet coalition party heads Sigmar Gabriel and Horst Seehofer to discuss the topic of transit zones for refugees.

The proposal to process asylum applications before refugees cross the border has until now been roundly rejected by Sigmar Gabriel, leader of the centre-left Social Democratic Party.

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

Jörg Luyken (joerg.luyken@thelocal.com)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Today's headlines
Creepy clown scare spreads to Germany
Two of the clowns were apparently equipped with chainsaws. Photo: Pedro Pardo / AFP file picture

Police said Friday five incidents involving so-called scary clowns had occurred in two north German town, including one assailant who hit a man with a baseball bat, amid fears that Halloween could spark a rash of similar attacks.

Student fined for spying on women via their webcams
Photo: DPA

Student from Munich fined €1,000 for spying on 32 different computers, using their webcams to take photographs, or record their keyboard history.

This is how much startup geeks earn in Germany
Photo: DPA

A comprehensive new survey of 143 startup founders shows how much you are likely to be earning at a German startup, from entry level all the way up to sitting on the board.

Man dies after beating for peeing near Freiburg church
The Johannes Church in Freiburg. Photo Jörgens Mi/Wikipedia

A middle-aged man from southern Germany has died after being attacked by a group of men who took umbrage with the fact he was urinating in the vicinity of a church.

The Local List
Seven German celebrities with uncanny doppelgängers
Former Berlin mayor Klaus Wowereit and actor Alec Baldwin. Photo: DPA; Gage Skidmore, Wikimedia Commons

Check out these seven look-a-likes of well known German figures - we admit that some are more tenuous than others...

Israel seeks to buy three new German submarines: report
A Dolphin class submarine. Photo: DPA

Israel is seeking to buy three more advanced submarines from Germany at a combined price of €1.2 billion, an Israeli newspaper reported Friday.

Here’s where people live the longest in Germany
Photo: DPA

Germans down south seem to know the secret to a long life.

More Germans identify as LGBT than in rest of Europe
Photo: DPA

The percentage of the German population which identifies as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender is higher than anywhere else in Europe, according to a new study.

'Reichsbürger' pair attack police in Saxony-Anhalt
File photo: DPA.

A "Reichsbürger" and his wife attacked police officers on Thursday, just a day after another Reichsbürger fatally shot an officer in Bavaria.

Five things not to miss at the Frankfurt Book Fair
Photo: DPA

From consulting a book doctor to immersing yourself in an author's world with the help of virtual reality, here are five things not to miss at this week's Frankfurt Book Fair, the world's largest publishing event.

Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
10 things you never knew about socialist East Germany
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
How Germans fell in love with America's favourite squash
How I ditched London for Berlin and became a published author
Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
12 clever German idioms that'll make you sound like a pro
23 fascinating facts you never knew about Berlin
9 unmissable events to check out in Germany this October
10 things you never knew about German reunification
10 things you're sure to notice after an Oktoberfest visit
Germany's 10 most Instagram-able places
15 pics that prove Germany is absolutely enchanting in autumn
10 German films you have to watch before you die
6 things about Munich that’ll stay with you forever
10 pieces of German slang you'll never learn in class
Ouch! Naked swimmer hospitalized after angler hooks his penis
Six reasons why Berlin is now known as 'the failed city'
15 tell-tale signs you’ll never quite master German
7 American habits that make Germans very, very uncomfortable
Story of a fugitive cow who outwitted police for weeks before capture
Eleven famous Germans with surnames that'll make your sides split
The best ways to get a visa as an American in Germany
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd