tv Quadriga - The International Talk Show LINKTV February 25, 2017 2:00pm-2:31pm PST
>> hello and a very warm welcome endeed from "quadriga," coming to you from the heart of the german capital, berlin. until recently, germany was known as a country that welcomed people with open arms but the mood is changing. tens of thousands of people from places tormented by war and persecution, such as countries across africa as well as syria and afghanistan are still risking their lives in desperate attempts to make their way too
europe -- to europe. after welcoming so many refugees into the country, germany is sending a growing number of them back to their countries of origin. so on "quadriga," the topic is, getting tough, merkel's asylum u-turn? i'm joined by three seasoned observers and analysts, let me introduce them to you, beginning with allen posner, political commentator from a berlin daily he argues that welcoming migrants while punishing greeks and other southern europeans has helped deconstruct the european union. let's hope , he says, it's not too late to change course. also with us, a political analyst from afghanistan who says deporting afghans may be ethically problematic because of the ongoing war in afghanistan but it's the only way for an scre la merkel to fend off the challenge from germany's opulist right.
other arm welcome to our guest who says that germany is betraying its human rights principles. allen, i'd like to give you the first question. critics of angela merkel are saying that germany is becoming a country that once had a welcoming culture but now has a culture of deportation. do you agree? >> in the at all. the first part, germany never had a welcoming culture. our constitution, the laws of the european union, stipulate that we don't take any refugees because if they come from third countries which are deemed safe as are all the countries around us, where these refugees would have to pass through, we should send them back. that's in our constitution. angela merkel made an exception two years ago to this inhuman,
or inhumane rule letting in hundreds of thousands because the whole system was blowing up in all of our faces. but germany was unprepared for that. what we're now doing is gearing up to deal with the fact that of the hundreds of thousands who we let in, at least 50% if not more have no right to be here. send them bacack to make room for those who do have a legitimate reason to be here. so this whole idea of, we were once such a welcoming country and now we are doing a u-turn is wrong. we were never a welcoming country. there was a short burst of so-called welcome culture in 2015, and now we're getting back o more or less normal. >> what do you say? >> i atpwhree. there was a big push and the question was what happens afterwards? i think there was a sort of u-turn because there was a
u-turn in the politics of angela merkel because she said, ok, we can do it. then she saw that it's more difficult than she imagined, also because she didn't consult with the european partners and we were the only ones to take them, more or less. but i think the question about talking about welcoming culture is not only talking about politics. it's also talking about society. i don't see that really the german society which has broadly welcomed the refugees has completely changed. i don't see that i think the media, we are talking a lot about the far right who are against the migrants or the refugees. but i think there's still a lot of initiatives bhor trying to help the refugees to feel better, to integrate, to learn german and this is part of the welcoming culture, the other is welcoming poll tidges. >> i think you have to look at the structure too. germany is a country that is
from this point of view from the culture point of view, the unit in the society is not only amily, it's the whole society. even southern europeans, it was because merkel felt, not only merkel but germany generally felt that they had to help their fellow human beings. when it comes to the welcoming culture of germany irk always criticize the nongerman who was lived here for a long time and some of them who have also come new. they -- i see a lot of my german friends who have taken a lot of initiatives with the newly arrived refugees. but nongermans, we have the biggest african community in europe in germany. they only criticize the system. they only criticize the new people that come. in but what have you done for the refugees? it's a huge question. >> interest you talking about your home country afghanistan.
one of the reasons the story we're talking about today is so much in the headlines is because there have been deportations from afghanistan back to your country of origin, back to their country of origin, which is a war zone. why are they being deported to a war zone? >> i think you have to deseg regate the whole situation there. it is a war zone. if you look at it from the economic point of view, one tudy says if there's 1,000 deaths in a country that's a civil war. so there a war. there are pockets, people come from he willman, they have a legitimate -- from hellmund, they have a legitimate region. but at the same time the state has done well to provide for them. it depends on who you are sending back. at the same time, it's so
difficult to see who has a legitimate claim to stay here and who doesn't. a lot have come from countries, especially iran, they live there for 40 years, they face a lot of discrimination. horrible, horrible situation they face there. they've come here too. so it's a very complex phenomenon. >> to get a little background, we need to talk about the alternative for germany party. it's an anti-islam, anti-immigrant party that could become the third political force in german politics at the september elections. angela merkel has reacted with a hardline on deportation and refugee policies in general. let's get that background before we continue the discussion. >> in late summer 2015, germany opened its heart and borders. chancellor merkel was touched by the suffering of refugees and she aloed hundreds of thousands of them to enter the country.
but now, things have changed. the open door policy has been revised. last year, 80,000 people whose applications for asylum had been turned down were seventh back home. that's a railroad number. -- a record numb. the federal and state governments recently adopted measures aimed at speeding up deportations. there's even a controversial plan to house failed asylum seekers in special facilities near airports so they can't scape. and the authorities may be allowed to search refugees' smart phones to confirm their identities. will angela merkel become known as the deportation chancellor? >> will she be known as the deportation chancellor? is is -- with the election coming up in september, is she pandering to the far right, the
populist right in germany? a lot of people say that's what's happening. >> it's not pandering to the populist right if you take laws seriously. german law says that -- and international law, which applies here, the geneva convention on refugees, say you have a right to be considered a refugee if you have been persecuted -- persecuted for political, religious, or other reasons. not just anyone who comes here because in their country there's a war on or because they're economically in dire straits. so we go to great lengths in germany to find out, it takes a long time and individually pro-- to individually process to find out who has a legitimate right to stay and who doesn't. it's about, with people from the western balkans, for instance, serbia, kosovo, albania, the second biggest group, 898% have
their applications turned down. so it's simply implementing the law to send them back. you can go through country by country whereas, for instance, among syrian refugees, i think something like 96% are accepted. and can settle here. and have their applications accepted. so enforcing the law isn't becoming a deportation chancellor. it's finally doing what should have been done actually two years ago. >> the question of the law is up to interpretation. so i agree that what angela merkel did in 2015, that was against laws which were unjust, as you said yourself. i never understood why greek and italy agreed to that, that they would accept all those who who come. we are, germany, so much in the middle of everything. there's no way to come if you don't come by plane. that's already difficult enough. so the question is, what is
really the criteria we should apply? so you say, ok, the -- adopt the criteria for syrians to stay here because there's a war. isn't there a war in afghanistan? that's a question. i think there's no war in serbia, that's clear. it's clear they have to be brought back because we cannot take everybody who wants just to come here. but if we ask the eastern european refugees to go back, that's one thing. for me, to deport afghans, that's another thing. you say, ok, they are safe places, i doubt that those who go back and there have been people who have been brought back who are part of a religious minority, i doubt that they have a possibility to develop themselves. and i think we should at least accept all those who come really from countries like iraq, like afghanistan, like syria, like
eritrea where you have no safety and our asylum laws say that. they don't ask for everybody that he has to show he has been personally an individually pursued. >> i think you're wrong. the geneva convention actually states that as a refugee you have to prove that you've been persecuted. and for instance, someone who comes, for instance, someone who comes from morocco and says i'm a homosexual and the society is not welcoming. the ruleling of the court is, no, society is not welcoming to homosexuals in morocco but if you don't flaunt it, you can live your life. and they are sent back. i know this because a friend of mine, his boyfriend was sent back. i think this is difficult but given the fact that so many people are really in danger of life and limb, in syria, for instance, and parts of iraq,
this is, you know, this is what you haveve to do. and other circumstances, i might say this is really hard to send back someone to morocco who is a homosexual who might get stoned if they found it out but there's nly so many resources. >> that idealist discussion is classic. the problem is, in afghanistan, we've got close to half a million back from pakistan. they were forcibly removed from pakistan. so the kind of deportation taking place there, and then you compare it with merkel, can't call her the deportation chancellor, it's unfair to her. but at the same time, they don't have the social system that exists in germany that could have helped them. so for me, i never said there was a safe place in afghanistan but if you take them, the units, looking at the parts of the
country and then comparing the country with countries like syria and iraq and so on and so forth and there in the past we have never had the kind of situation we have, the kind of openness we have today, the progress that's been made today and compare it with syria, we don't have that level of violence. we don't have that kind of brutality that's perpetrated by the state and a lot of other actors and the state in afghanistan is actively trying to address issues of asylum seekers in europe. at the same time, there's a program they're working on for those coming from countries like pakistan. so the state is actively trying to. but it is challenging. could be a target of an attack. you could lose your limbs, could lose your life. it could happen. the likelihood is much higher than germany. again, it's a matter of priorities. how many people can germany take
and how many people it can take from syria or afghanistan, soson and so forth. for politicians, it's a cold business. it's not only about transfer, it's about making sure that they stay in power, if they are in power, or gain power. if it does not agree with them, i worked with politicians, it's going to be a different game plan. >> that's politics, i agree. the question is, how do we define a country. do we say that the homosexual from morocco is he really in danger or not, that's politics. it's a political decision. i think for example in this i agree with angela merkel from 2015 that we can take in more and that we have to turn back those who are very obviously have no reason to stay here. like eastern european. like those from north africa where there's no individual reason. >> even if she loses pow her i would love for them to all stay here.
they would fwre back or at least my country would be helped. but is it political think possible for her that she would stay in power? the chance is enormous for her. >> i think that's the question also of accompaniment by civil society and by the media. i think that for example too much courage has been given immediate, it's -- too much coverage has been given, when you have a nonstration of 0 people for germany, off big thing in the newspapers, i think that's not necessary. i think what has been neglected since 2015 are these -- all these initiatives which are still working with refugees and for refugees. i think we get an image of a society which is not -- not corresponding to the rest. >> but does it translate into votes? are we going to face the same situation we have in the u.s.
right now? >> no, what i wanted to say, you create somehow reality. if you talk only about a certain thing, it looks bigger than it is. >> but we know that the far right not only in germany but all across europe, there was -- the end of a will the of criticism and a lot of bullying. anyhow. what they've really mastered is the narrative to that -- that resonates with the sentiments of people. could we create another narrative? do we have the structures to counter that narrative? and that's exactly what happened here. no one had that narrative. bernie sanders had it but he was shut down by the very forces that are very progress i. >> i'd like to go back to what you were talking about, afghan citizens who applied for asylum in germany, have had their applications turned down. i want to look at a case in point a young man called kazim.
>> he has returned to a country he no longer considered home. he doesn't understand why he was not allowed to stay in germany. he was working to build a new life there. >> i was in germany for six year in the state of ba varea. i lived and wororked there and learned the german language. y life was secure there. >> kazim is staying with friends in a northern afghan city. taliban forces are active in the region. last november, four civilians were killed in a truck bomb attack on the german consulate in mazar. kazim can't go back to his home village because it's controlled by the taliban. deportations to afghanistan. are they a v violation o of hum rights?
>> how much do you feel for him? >> a lot. it's sad, really sad. not only because of that, but he spent six years of his life here. could have been potentially a great person not only for afghanistan but germany. these young people have the capacity, the potential to be productive in society. no doubt about it. but at the same time, again, politics is a cold business, you know. it's not. >> should kazim be in germany or afghanistan? >> in an ideal world i suppose he'd be here but -- if that's where he wants to be. i don't see why someone should complain about having spent six years in germany, learned german, which is an asset in afghanistan, learned a trade which is an asset for him. goodness, refugees from nazi germany were returned to germany after the war.
they didn't complain they spent six years somewhere else and had to learn english, whether they were in south africa, the united states, france, wherever. it seems a bit strange that instead of saying, wow, i was a guest of germany for six years, i was given a good education, i was able to educate myself, now i come back, instead of which he's complaining. he may have good reason. but you know, there's this other side that he had, you know, he had opportunities here. >> he goes back to a war zone. he doesn't come back to a germany where there was no war again. and at the same time these two countries are so different. that situation was very different than this situation. and -- >> coming back to germany in 1945, everything is in ruins. come on. >> he didn't decide on his own. >> we don't know. he obviously doesn't want to be where he is. i can understand that. but on the other hand, it is the law. >> laws can be unjust.
>> nazis had laws, taliban had laws. >> it's a law, international aw, which 146 nations have put into place, the geneva convention. the this binding for us asylum laws which are broader than the geneva convention. >> and the states have the final say on every single case. i mean, again, it's not easy for germany. we understand. but germany will have a population deficit. these people could be extremely helpful in the future for this country. i know the syrians who have come, they're the cream of the society. a lot of them are highly educated. they could contribute in many ways. and also these young afghans could contribute in many ways to german society. especially if you wait somebody six years, at the same time you say german language is maybe something he can use in afghanistan, you never know, you know. he economy has gone so bad
because it was clearly around the services provided to these soldiers who went out. so maybe he doesn't even have a decent source of income. so for him, it's a totally different story. >> i'd like to begin to wrap it up by getting to the core of the issue we've been talking about today. germany took in a lot of people. more than a million people, that's for sure. it's now beginning the process of sending back people to their countries of origin. maybe hundreds of thousands of people. a quick answer from each of you but i would like to know, how does germany avoid becoming a hardhearted country in the midst of this process? >> it avoids becoming a hardhearted country by sticking to the letter of the law and sending back people who don't have the right to be here and welcoming those who do have the right. now, the law is hardhearted, if you will, but obeying the law, doing what the law says, is surely what a law-abiding, what
the rule of law demands. so that's what it's about. >> i think law is important for conversation. i think hardhearted would be to bring them all back. to have the strictest interpretation of the law. for me the good solution would be that those who come from conflict countries have the right to stay here, crisis war countries. strictly who come for economic reasons should be turned back if they cannot prove that they have. strictly economic reasons should be >> nor now there's so much confusion, the refugees are going to be productive for the society or not. whether they're an asset or not. the problem is, nobody knows concrete answers. no one knows concrete answers. for that, we need to study the situation better and take more time. >> is angela merkel going to go
down in history as the chancellor of deportation or the welcoming chancellor? >> depends on the perspective you look at it. if you're from pakistan, of course not. if you compare welcoming in 2015 and now, people will have a different opinion. i would have a different opinion. >> ka chancellor -- chancellor of deportation, the hardhearted chancellor or the welcoming chancellor? >> i think what differentiates her from her colleagues in europe, for example, on the western journal is she has openeded. this is something which will remain in the mind. >> welcoming or the unwelcoming angela merkel? >> the hardhearted chancellor to the wrong people. hardhearted to the greeks and europeans. she'll go down as the chancellor who as in so many things changed her course so many times no one knew what her heart was all about, quite frankly.
>> one final question, i would like to talk about donald trump because the european -- yeah. get him in here. the europeans seem to be so high minded, pointing to america and saying trump's policies are so ill liberal, building walls, building fences. injecting immigrant -- ejects immigrants from the country. is europe not doing the same thing by building walls and fences? >> we don't have time -- in europe it could be different but i would quote an afghan expert who said it could be a blessing in disguise for us in afghanistan, he could have better relationships with russia. >> ok, we're going to leave it on that note. thanks for joining us. i hope we've given you plenty of food for thought. if you've enjoyed the program as much as i have, do come back to "quadriga." until then, bye-bye.
michelle: hello and welcome to "focus on europe." i'm michelle henery. one of our stories today reports on a spy network active right here in germany. it is said that the turkish secret service is behind it. the network of informants is so widespread, it has drawn comparisons to the stasi that operated in communist east germany. but not everyone is convinced the network even exists. there is no outside interference, out of the question, says this man. more on this is coming up later, in the program.