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German government backs controversial UN migration pact

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German government backs controversial UN migration pact
MPs including Chancellor Angela Merkel voting in the Bundestag on Thursday. Photo: DPA
17:17 CET+01:00
It has sparked a split of opinions among politicians in Germany. But on Thursday the Bundestag voted in favour of the controversial UN migration pact.

In the ballot 372 MPs voted in favour of signing the pact, 153 voted no and 141 abstained following a debate on the pact. 

As part of the vote, a motion was also raised which states that the pact has no “law-altering or legislative effect” so that Germany can decide its migration policy itself. However, as the pact is legally non-binding, countries who sign it are under no obligation to take in extra migrants or refugees.

The United Nation's Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration marks the first time the world organization has agreed on a list of global objectives to tackle the challenges involved in migration for individual migrants, and at the same time to maximize benefits for the countries taking in immigrants.

The agreement is being formed to deal with the huge number of people from across the world who are leaving their countries to seek refuge elsewhere because of conflict, poverty or other reasons. Germany played a key role in the height of the refugee and migration crisis in 2015, which has resulted in a polarization of opinions across the country.

Foreign Minister Heiko Maas and speakers from the centre-right Union, centre-left Social Democrats (SPD), Greens, Left and pro-business Free Democrats (FDP) defended the pact against criticism from politicians, including those within the anti-immigrant Alternative for Germany (AfD) party.

Maas (SPD) said the pact aimed to reduce migration and its negative effects.

"That is why we in Germany also benefit from the fact that it will be adopted. This pact is also in Germany's interest," he said.

National sovereign rights would "neither be restricted nor transferred anywhere," he added.

SEE ALSO: Merkel defends UN migration pact amid party split on issue 

In a tweet later Maas added that the pact was a response by the international community and that there could be "no national solution".

"Migration is as old as humanity, global in nature and affects us all. Managing and regulating it is in our interest," he added.

An invitation for migration

AfD MEP Gottfried Curio sharply attacked the government. The pact was "nothing other than an irresponsible invitation to the worldwide migration of people to Germany without an upper limit," he said.

The AfD had previously called the pact a "Trojan horse" that promotes the "unrestricted and chaotic" expansion of migration.

Meanwhile, FDP deputy faction leader Stephan Thomae said that the pact might encourage other countries to take more responsibility, therefore easing the burden on Germany.

"If others also commit themselves to it, this will reduce the migratory pressure on Germany,” he said. 

Petra Pau from the Left party (Linke) said that no state would lose its sovereignty, no border would be abolished. And that anyone who claims otherwise confuses members of the public, she said.

SEE ALSO: Survey: 40 percent of Germans fear migration pact will result in more asylum claims

Agnieszka Brugger of the Greens emphasized the protection of human rights. It was "sad to have to stress that human rights apply to all people", she said.

Andrea Lindholz (CSU), said migration remains a global phenomenon that can only be solved globally and not nationally.

Bundestag backs the pact

In the adopted resolution, the Bundestag welcomed the fact that the international community had drawn up the pact, which was intended to help regulate, manage and limit migration more effectively.

However, the stipulation is that Germany is still in charge of laws and enforcement as well as migration policies.

The UN migration pact is to be adopted at a meeting in Morocco on December 10th and 11th.

The legally non-binding agreement is intended to help organize migration more effectively. However, not every country supports it. Among others, the U.S., Hungary, Austria, the Czech Republic, Switzerland and Slovakia have spoken out against the pact.

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