German Minister Seehofer: Country could “experience a wave of refugees like in 2015 – or perhaps an even larger one.”
German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer warned that the country could soon be overwhelmed by a refugee wave more significant than the one in 2015.
“We need to do more to help our European partners with controls at the EU’s external borders. We’ve left them alone for too long,” Seehofer said during a visit to Turkey. “If we don’t do this, we’ll experience a wave of refugees like in 2015 – or perhaps an even larger one.”
Germany’s state broadcaster Deutsche Welle reported the minister’s warning:
German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer has warned of a larger influx of refugees than that seen in Europe in 2015. He made the statement during an official visit to Greece.
Traveling with incoming European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, Seehofer also said the EU had to do more to support Turkey so that refugees did not attempt the often dangerous crossing to Greece.
During a two-day trip this week, Seehofer traveled to both Turkey and Greece, where he held talks with government representatives, hoping to broker a strong deal on refugees and border controls.
“We have to help our European partners even more in patrolling the EU’s external borders; we have left them alone for too long,” Seehofer told the Bild am Sonntag newspaper, referring not only to Greece but also to Spain and Italy. “If we don’t, we will once again see a refugee wave like in 2015 — maybe even greater than four years ago.”
The fear of a new migrant wave comes as Ankara prepares for a military invasion in northeast Syria after the U.S. pulls out, media reports suggest. Turkish forces have gathered near the border with Syria, a move aimed at targeting positions held by pro-U.S. Kurdish allies. Kurds played a crucial role in pushing back the Islamic State (ISIS) in Syria and Iraq.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has repeatedly threatened to “open the gates” for illegal immigrants if the European Union fails to meet his ever-increasing demands. Ankara could again use the threat to silence Europe if it wages war against the Kurds in neighboring Syria.
In 2016, German Chancellor Angela Merkel reached a deal with Erdogan to ease the pressure on the unabated migrant surge. Berlin promised billions of euros in return for Ankara’s vague promises to slow down the migrant influx.
In a separate report, Deutsche Welle reported the details of the EU-Turkey deal:
Under a 2016 EU-Turkey agreement, Turkey committed to preventing migrants from reaching Greece. Greece was also permitted to send rejected asylum-seekers back to Turkey. In return, Turkey was pledged €6 billion ($6.6 billion) to house refugees in camps, while the EU also accepted a certain contingent whose asylum claims had been recognized. So far €5.8 billion has been allocated and €2.6 billion disbursed.
However, Greece has witnessed a massive spike in the number of illegal asylum seekers crossing over from Turkey.
“Irregular arrivals to Greece increased over the past weeks and months,” EU Migration Kommissar Dimitris Avramopoulos admitted last week. “There is an urgent need to further strengthen the prevention and detection of irregular departures from Turkey.”
If the recent migrant surge along the Greek-Turkish border is any indicator, the Merkel-Erdgoan pact is dead in its tracks. The Greek “islands right now are suffering from strangulation due to overcrowding at the facilities, and there is a need for more effective border guarding, and concern over possible increased flows in the coming period,” the government in Athens disclosed in August.
While Greece makes desperate calls for strengthening the border and coastal security, NGOs backed by Germany, and the EU continue to pick up migrants along the North African coasts and disembarking them in Greek, Spanish, and Italian ports.
If financially bankrupt Greece is unable to secure its coastline, Berlin isn’t in any better shape either. Nearly a million migrants — mainly from Arab and Muslim countries — swarmed the country after Chancellor Merkel opened Germany’s borders in September 2015. The surge led to a series of deadly Islamic terror attacks and a rise in violent migrant crime.
Four years on, the Merkel-led Germany is unprepared to face a migrant wave of the magnitude witnessed last time. There were not enough trained police officers to man Germany’s border, the head of Germany’s police union admitted.
“We don’t even have winter boots,” chairman of the German Police Federation (GdP) Jörg Radek told Der Tagesspiegel newspaper.
Migrant wave along Greek-Turkish border
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