Less than two weeks have passed since the dawn of 2016 and terrorism and the migration crisis continue afflicting Europe and especially Germany. Yesterday’s horrible terrorist attack in Istanbul that caused the lives of at least 10 people and left 15 injured shocked the entire world and particularly Angela Merkel since eight Germans were among the victims.
Terrorism left aside, the migration crisis is the other “hot” issue that the German Chancellor is trying to deal post last Monday’s violent protest that took place in Leipzig, Germany where 211 far-right extremists were arrested for causing serious damages on cars and stores. This was the outcome of the sexual assaults on women partying in Cologne during New Year’s Eve.
The response by Mrs Merkel to those issues was on the one hand to admit that the country has lost control of the migration crisis and on the other to condemn international terrorism. It seems that the powerful leader who had previously fought in favor of migrants during last year is now trying to change Germany’s policy as her popularity is decreasing and fierce turbulences are rocking the country and Europe in general.
Terrorism rocks Germany
The terrorist attack in Istanbul’s Sultanahmet square, site of the Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia, caused a great wound to Germany and its people leaving 8 Germans dead and 9 injured. More specifically, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, foreign Minister of Germany stated that: “For many years, terror hasn’t hit us Germans as hard as today in Istanbul. It was evident that we would not escape the cancerous ulcer of terror, and it’s equally threatening to us — in Turkey, Europe and elsewhere.”
The Chancellor urged the German citizens not to gather up in main sights in Turkey and underlined during her speech that: “international terrorism has once again shown its cruel and inhumane face. “The terrorists are enemies of all free people. They are enemies of all humanity, whether in Syria or Turkey, whether in France or Germany.”
The European Commission (EC) expressed also its condolences to the families of the victims through the High Representative/Vice-President Federica Mogherini and Commissioner Johannes Hahn. Furthermore, both officials clearly stressed that the EU and Turkey are together against all kinds of terrorism, setting this fight as EC’s priority No 1.
Shifting migration policy
The current year thus didn’t start with the best omens for Europe and its greatest economy. Migrants are supposed to be behind the sex assaults of New Year’s Eve in Cologne and other cities compromising the already hostile climate against them. The policy that the German government is going to undertake in order to address similar events is imminent. According to CNN, the country is about to enact new laws in order to be able to deport migrants who are found guilty of crimes causing death or serious injury, sexual or physical assaults, or resisting police officers more easily.
The latter reveals a clear change of course in the German migration policy, a move against Merkel’s ideals meant to favor the settlement of refugees in Germany. Her exact sayings show the difficulties of coping with migration: “Now all of a sudden we are facing the challenge that refugees are coming to Europe and we are vulnerable, as we see, because we do not yet have the order, the control, that we would like to have.”
Another fact that reinforces this argument is that Germany has increased the number of migrants sent back to Austria since the beginning of the year according to the Austrian authorities. Germany and its government is trying to find ways to address this long-lasting issue that is plaguing the Old Continent but there is still a long way till the train is put back on the right track.
All in all, 2016 will definitely be difficult and crucial for Europe and the main question is whether the new attempts of EU member states to change their migration policy and Schengen’s playbook are either going to provide a permanent solution or will deepen this crisis.
However, while the EU officials are trying to find the “golden section” in the crisis, migrants are still fleeing to Europe from Turkey crossing the Aegean Sea by thousands every day and despite the substantial adversities of the bad weather.
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