International media focuses on Merkel's approach to EU - Turkey refugee deal

Published 12.03.2016 15:47
Updated 12.03.2016 19:44
International media focuses on Merkel's approach to EU - Turkey refugee deal

Majority of international newspapers highlighted on Saturday the importance of German Chancellor Angela Merkel's stance regarding the tentative deal on refugees between the European Union and Turkey on their headlines.

Merkel has received mixed reactions to her support to the deal both at home and internationally. While some criticize her for sending the refugees back, others claim that refugees – or the illegal migrants – should be dealt with in the countries they come from.

International media outlets have also followed Merkel's decision closely in their coverage.

The Wall Street Journal, in the article titled 'Germans' Welcome for Migrants', has implied that the recent influx of refugees will change the demographics in Germany.

"Yet this is migration on a grand scale, the largest Europe has seen in decades. It amounts to a real-time experiment in how one of the world's greatest democracies will be affected by a vast inflow of people different in culture, attitudes, skills and economic status," the report has said.

"Amid widespread misgivings about her refugee policy, many analysts say she may not be able to continue capturing votes on her left much longer," report adds highlighting that Merkel's refugee policy will lead to decrease in support.

Despite the criticism Merkel receives, the WSJ article argues that Merkel faces no alternatives in European politics.

"Ms. Merkel faces no imminent threat to her rule. Even with her popularity sharply diminished, it exceeds that of many ruling politicians around Europe, and she faces no obvious rival," the report adds.

On Sunday, the German states of Rhineland-Palatinate, Baden-Wuerttemberg and Saxony-Anhalt hold regional elections as part of a test of public opinion on government handling of the refugee crisis. The Guardian, in the article titled 'German anti-refugee party targets 'political earthquake' in elections,' draws attention to the rise of opposition in Germany, which seeks to utilize on Merkel's refugee policy.

"Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) expected to make gains on back of opposition to Angela Merkel's open-door policy," the Guardian highlights regarding the upcoming elections on Sunday.

"According to polls, the AfD is expected to secure 18-20% of the vote in Saxony-Anhalt on Sunday, putting it more or less on a par with the leftwing Social Democrats (SPD). It's an extraordinary feat for a party that was polling at about 5% in the autumn, and its rise is seen as part of a backlash against Merkel's open-door policy that has allowed more than 1.1 million refugees to enter Germany over the past year," the Guardian report said.

While the EU continues to grapple with reactions, both positive and negative, to the draft agreement between Turkey and the EU on resolving the refugee and migrant crisis in a humane way, all eyes have turned to German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who is seen as the main backer of the deal, and her ability to overcome vocal objections from domestic and EU opponents to persuade the rest of the EU to approve it before next Friday's Turkey-EU summit.

Meanwhile, The Telegraph, in the article titled 'Angela Merkel's Turkey deal at risk of unravelling', highlighted the criticism against Merkel among the European countries for supporting the EU – Turkey deal.

"There is intense anger that Angela Merkel, the German Chancellor, bypassed her 27 counterparts and Donald Tusk, the tough Polish president of the Council, to draw up the deal with Ankara before it was presented to leaders on Monday."

According to the deal, Turkey will readmit refugees crossing the Aegean while the EU will allow visa-free travel for Turkish citizens in the Schengen zone and transfer 6 billion euros to Ankara for the upkeep of refugees in Turkey.

On the other hand, the Financial Times in the article titled 'Europe's migrant crisis dims Merkel's aura', asserts that the refugee crisis has been one of the most crucial times for Merkel as a politician.

"No crisis has been as personal, as divisive at home or as damaging to her core European alliances," FT has said.

The USA Today also drew attention to the Sunday's election in Germany saying that the Merkel will be challenged due to her refugee policy.

"Chancellor faces a voter backlash in elections Sunday over her open-door policy that has allowed a flood of migrants to settle in Germany," The USA Today said in the article, titled 'German elections to test support for Merkel's migrant policy'.

"The chancellor allowed more than one million migrants fleeing wars and poverty to enter Europe's largest economy to apply for asylum, a move that has put her at odds with many members of her conservative (CDU) party and alienated large swathes of the German public," it added.

The Washington Post article has said that although there might be challenges to Merkel in the elections, the backlash will not be as rigid as it has been put by some critics.

In the article titled 'A right-wing party in Germany hopes to capitalize on anti-migrant anger,' the Washington Post article read:

"Should Merkel's party truly go down in flames in a manner not yet forecast, she could face rising pressure to step aside in the coming months. But most observers are predicting milder losses as the popularity of Merkel — whose poll numbers had fallen sharply during the refugee crisis — appears to be staging a comeback following an impressive TV interview last week."

The Newsweek also focused on Merkel, in the article 'On Sunday, Merkel Faces the German Voters' Verdict', claiming that the Chancellor's position will be put on a test for her refugee policies on the Sunday's elections.

"Angela Merkel's position as Europe's undisputed leader is under fire," the article says and adds:

"True, it is the German chancellor who is setting the agenda for how Europe, specifically Germany, can cope with the flow of refugees and migrants reaching the European Union. And Merkel has no contenders in Germany or in Europe."

However, the article also asserts Merkel critics' position on the EU – Turkey refugee deal, claiming that she went about the deal unilaterally, without consulting other EU leaders.

The article also underscores that the EU leaders left Merkel without options, as they did not cooperate on the refugee issues.

"She had little choice. Months of trying to persuade her EU counterparts on humanitarian, moral, legal and political grounds to take a share of the refugees and migrants came to naught. For the first time since becoming chancellor in 2005, Merkel had to find ways to reconcile her values with realpolitik," Newsweek report said.

Daily Sabah also covered the issue on its frontpage headline in an article titled 'Clock ticking for Merkel to up her game before crucial EU summit', highlighting that Merkel "has a week to persuade her fellow EU leaders to accept a deal with Turkey to resolve the refugee crisis."

The number of Syrian refugees in Turkey has reached 2,733,784, of which 282,815 refugees reside in 26 temporary refugee centers.

Syria has been locked in a vicious civil war since early 2011 when the al-Assad regime cracked down on pro-democracy protests with unexpected ferocity.

Since then, more than 300,000 people have been killed and more than 10 million displaced, according to the UN.

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