Europe's fear of refugees

Published 15.11.2017 21:20

In Germany, the Christian Democratic Union of Germany (CDU), the Christian Social Union in Bavaria (CSU), the Free Democratic Party (FDP) and the Green Party have been negotiating for weeks to form a four-party coalition government, referred to as the Jamaica coalition. They have not yet reached an agreement on many topics. But the greatest challenge among others appears to be the refugee policy. The CSU, which is uneasy in the face of the Alternative for Germany's (AfD) ability to form the third largest parliamentary group through their anti-refugee campaigns and worried over the 2018 Bavarian state elections, agreed to cap the number of refugees arriving in Germany at 200,000 annually and stands strictly against the family reunification of refugees who have temporary residence permits in Germany. For the Greens, this is a subject in which they cannot make concessions for the sake of "political ethics." On Tuesday night this week, they discussed the issue until the morning, but still could not come up with a solution, so the negotiations are still ongoing. They aim to obtain results by the end of this week. We are closely following developments with interest.

The subject of their bargain is human beings. Refugees temporarily residing in Germany cannot return to their homeland for a long while due to the ongoing civil war. This is why they are allowed to stay in Germany. However, allowing family reunification for refugees remains a taboo for a party that has the word "Christian" in its name and emphasizes religious values, not to mention EU values.

It begs the question how a good Christian European citizen who goes to church every Sunday cannot have a guilty conscience with regard to the issue. Separating these people from their families is a disgrace to humanity.

The overall number of people in question is between 60,000 and 300,000. Those siding with family reunification claim that it is 60,000, while those objecting say that it might be 300,000 spouses or children. This is not a number that can pose a problem to Germany if the country really wishes to help. The population in Germany of German origin is 73.3 million, while the remaining 9.5 million consist of foreigners who are not German citizens, which corresponds to 11.4 percent of the overall population. Although this number does not seem so small, it is still far from being a large number given the global migration movements in today's world.

In Germany, a total of 476,649 people applied for asylum in 2015, while the number of applications reached 745,545 in 2016 but declined to 187,226 in 2017 once applications made until the end of October are considered.

Thanks to the refugee agreement signed with Turkey on March 18, 2016, Germany was relieved to a great extent with regard to refugee applications. Turkey has shouldered a great burden not only for Germany but also for all European countries. While the family reunification issue is hampering the formation of a government in Germany, Turkey sets an example to the entirety of Europe on the issue. In Turkey, Syrian refugees live with their families, and not a single party in the Turkish Parliament has so far objected to this. The CSU, which opposes Turkey's EU membership, has a lot to learn from Turkey in terms of guarding EU values.

Today's world constantly creates new refugees. And neither the EU nor European countries are completely innocent in this respect. Looking at arms sales figures is enough to realize this. In such an environment, people naturally leave their countries and strive to reach Europe, where there is no war.

Aside from several countries, such as Germany, Greece, Spain and Italy, the number of refugees arriving in other European countries is so small that they cannot possibly pose any problem. But incompetent European governments and racists who abuse the situation turned this easily manageable issue into a great challenge. Fear and hostility felt towards refugees in Europe caused family reunification, one of the most humane needs, to become a bargaining issue in Germany.

Looking at asylum applications made in 2017 through the end of October, Italy received 59,115 refugee applications, while Austria had 10,510. The numbers are 1,975 for Hungary, 2,525 for Poland, 19,570 for Greece, 1,300 for Romania, 1,870 for Bulgaria and 1,365 for South Cyprus. It gets even more difficult to make sense of Europe's fear of refugees when we compare these figures with the ones in Turkey, Jordan, Lebanon and some African countries.

Not only the EU, but also the entire continent is experiencing a major challenge with regard to refugees. Currently, this challenge is particularly visible in Germany. We will see whether the Greens can take a tough stance for family reunification despite the CSU. Hopefully, they can. Turkey is not as prosperous as Germany, and Turkish citizens do not have the welfare German citizens enjoy. Despite that, the Turks have made every kind of sacrifice to enable the unification of families. For this reason, they cannot understand the bargaining in Europe over human lives and well-being.

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