Migrants: Is Mutti Merkel ‘Our Lady of Immigration’ or the Nemesis of Europe?
Could Europe’s migrant crisis herald the collapse of a Community set up to stop Germany ever again destroying Europe? If so might the blame then lie with a former East German immigrant and her emotional embrace of upto a million “Syrian refugees”, many of whom, it turns out, are neither Syrian nor refugees.
Some six weeks have passed since Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, announced that Germany would grant asylum to all Syrians arriving in the country, a move said to have hastened the exodus already underway from Africa and the Middle East, and one that is now increasingly contested (See Part Two of this report for more details)in a Germany faced by on-the-ground realities and considerably overstretched resources.
Around the same time and after the current flow of migrants from Africa, the Middle East, Afghanistan and Pakistan turned into a stampede, the Eurostat office published figures which are reported here and elsewhere: “The EU logged 213,000 new migrant arrivals in April, May and June but only 44,000 were seeking a new life in Europe after fleeing the Syrian civil war. The latest figures from Eurostat, the EU’s official statistical agency, reveal migration from April to June was running at double the level of the same period in 2014 and the migrants came from places as far apart as Afghanistan, Bangladesh and South Sudan. One cause of the spike is the number of Afghans lodging asylum claims. They are up four-fold, from 6,300 to 27,000. Another 17,700 claims were made by Albanians, whose country is not at war but does share a European border. A further 13,900 applicants came from Iraq which, like neighbouring Syria, is being destroyed by Daesh (the self-styled Islamic State) terrorists. Half a million migrants have arrived in Europe so far this year, with 156,000 coming in August alone. Rather than claiming asylum in the first safe EU country they reach, which in most cases is Greece or Italy, most head on toward wealthy northern states. More than 250,000 migrants have reached those two countries alone before striking out on the overland trail to their EU haven of choice.”
The spectre of a Merkel-driven demise of the European Union (set up in 1952 as the six-nation European Coal and Steel Community, later the European Economic Community, the European Community and now the EU), is a concern now being flagged up by media commentators. This follows widespread reports and cross border opinion polls showing how the public mood in Europe shifted sharply this summer. From an initial warm welcome in Germany and Sweden — contrasted with the consistently cool response among the anti-immigrant French — the mood has turned to one of anger, fear and a sometimes vicious repudiation of what increasingly out-of-touch leaders’ decree should be done about the people avalanche rolling across, over and under the weakly protected borders of the continent.
(The rare exception on the defence of borders issue is the ongoing valiant effort — dismissively derided in Brussels — by Hungary to uphold the integrity of its Schengen border post on the EU’s eastern frontier. Until Germany effectively and unilaterally renounced Schengen under the guise of a “temporary suspension” — see Rachman below — Schengen area law requires the state responsible for the area’s external border to beef up its resources and control and inspect the papers of all non Schengen area travellers on behalf of the rest of the member states. Hungary insists its actions in erecting fences falls under these obligations. Hungary does not stand alone in its oppostion to the migrant flow. Breitbart London reported: “Slovakian Prime Minister Robert Fico has vowed to break the new EU law, saying that his country will turn away 800 migrants due to be sent from Italy and Greece. “Slovakia is not going to respect mandatory quotas,” he said … As resentment grew among Central European leaders, Donald Tusk, the President of the European Council who hails from Poland’s ruling party, begged for unity: “The most urgent question we should ask ourselves tonight is how to regain control of our external borders… Otherwise it doesn’t make any sense to even speak about common migration policy. What is at stake is also the future of Schengen, the sense of order in Europe and the common European spirit.” “The greatest tide of refugees and migrants is yet to come. We need to end the policy of open doors and window… Today we are talking about millions of potential refugees trying to reach Europe, not thousands,” he added.)
The debacle over Schengen has given France’s resurgent Front National plenty of fresh ammunition for its long standing campaign to end the open borders deal. Here FN leader Marine le Pen denounces Schengen as “madness”:
Published on Sep 23, 2015
“Marine Le Pen: Mr President, fellow parliamentarians. In late August,Angela Merkel flung open Germany’s borders. She declared her wish to accommodate 800,000 migrants. 15 days later, the German Chancellor slammed into a brick wall called reality. She was obliged to perform an impressive U-turn, suspending the Schengen Agreement. And sent police to Germany’s borders, in order to stop the influx of illegal migrants. You EU obsessives have triggered a phenomenon you cannot cope with, and which now threatens to overwhelm us! The verdict of history will hold YOU responsible. This madness must stop!”
“Why I believe the EU is on the brink of breaking apart” a piece initially published in the UK’s Financial Times by Gideon Rachman, is the most recent of the Is-Germany-Destroying-Europe reflections surfacing in European media.
Gideon Rachman writes of a cocktail of problems facing Europe: “For the first time in decades, some of the fundamental achievements and tenets of the EU are under threat.
“These include the single currency, open borders, free movement of labour and the notion that membership is for ever. Rather than rising to these challenges, the EU is creaking under the strain. Its 28 members are arguing bitterly, and seem incapable of framing effective responses to their common problems. At an emergency summit held in Brussels last week, one of the bloc’s most senior officials, European Council president Donald Tusk, called for the EU to ‘correct our policy of open doors and windows’, warning of ‘millions of potential refugees trying to reach Europe, not thousands’ and that the ‘greatest tide of refugees and migrants is yet to come’. ‘We have reached a critical point where we need to end the cycle of mutual recriminations and misunderstandings,’ he said — even as Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orbán rejected Germany’s ‘moral imperialism’ in pushing for migrant quotas, insisting that his country had a ‘democratic right’ to a different approach.
“These arguments are taking place against an ominous backdrop. Large parts of the EU remain sunk in a semi-depression, with high unemployment and unsustainable public finances. The problems of an imploding Middle East are crowding in on Europe, in the form of hundreds of thousands of refugees…”
Such media speculation is unsurprising given how quickly the political tide has turned in Germany itself since Mutti, the Protestant Brandenburger credited by Die Welt with having “de-ideologised German politics“, opened her arms and allowed heart to overrule head in an emotional piece of on-the-hoof-policy-making she now looks set to rue.
While she may consider herself bullet-proof are her people really as united in their support as she likes to assume?
A change.org petition set up two weeks ago by a German named only as “Monika Harter” that demands the chancellor resign and call fresh national elections, has so far attracted almost 125,000 of the 150,000 signature target needed for submission to Berlin.
Tellingly in discussing the nature of the German leader, Die Welt writes: “She as captain of the ship tends to navigate ‘at sight’ indeed one might even add: she pilots in a fog. Nevertheless (despite her hesitancy and reluctance to commit) she is also capable of dramatic decisions, considerable high-handedness and sudden changes of course… After the Fukushima nuclear accident and tsunami, she changed course radically overnight and ordered the fastest possible abandonment of German nuclear energy – without any consultation with other EU countries… She astonished all of Germany when she announced her open door policy on refugees … Many criticised this as being premature, others accused her of ‘moral imperialism’… yet this is what Angela Merkel, a physicist from Protestant Brandenburg has decided: immigration will considerably change the face of Europe in coming years and decades. We will no longer be a Judeo-Christian garden. We can, without any prospect of success, reject this vision or we can accept it while wanting to customize it to our (way of life)”.
Is Europe facing a Refugee, Economic Migrant, or Asylum Seeker crisis? The descriptors are critical. Refugees benefit from a special status under the UNHCR – the 1951 Refugee Convention; Economic Migrants have no special rights and should take their place in an orderly queue outside the embassy of their choice in their home country and apply for work and residence permits; genuine asylum seekers also benefit from protection under the 1951 convention (Asylum seekers are people who move across borders in search of protection, but who may not fulfil the strict criteria of the 1951 Convention…they can become refugees if a local immigration authority deems they meet the 1951 definition of refugee), but experience shows that the majority of asylum seekers smuggled to Europe by criminal gangs in the last three years are in effect economic migrants.
If Die Welt is right — that a Protestant from the former communist state of East Germany — has decided Europe under the pressure of a largely Muslim migrant tsunami, must surrender the 1000-year-old values of its Judeo-Christian heritage, she might care to heed warnings reportedly given to her own intelligence chief.
According to Soeren Kern writing on the Gatestone website: “the head of German intelligence, Hans-Georg Maaßen, was warned that radical Muslims in Germany are canvassing the refugee shelters looking for new recruits. He said: ‘Many of the asylum seekers have a Sunni religious background. In Germany there is a Salafist scene that sees this as a breeding ground. We are observing that Salafists are appearing at the shelters disguised as volunteers and helpers, deliberately seeking contact with refugees to invite them to their mosques to recruit them to their cause’.
“The editor of the newspaper Neue Westfälische, Ansgar Mönter, reports that Salafists in Bielefeld, a city in North Rhine-Westphalia, have already infiltrated refugee centers in the area by bringing toys, fruits and vegetables for the migrants. Mönter says ‘naïve’ politicians are contributing to the radicalization of refugees by asking Muslim umbrella groups in the country to reach out to the migrants.
“Mönter points out that the main Muslim groups in Germany all adhere to fundamentalist interpretations of Islam and are anti-Western in outlook. Some groups have ties to the Muslim Brotherhood while others want to implement Sharia law in Germany. According to Mönter, politicians should not be encouraging these groups to establish contact with the new migrants (most of whom are themselves Muslim).”
Therefore Merkel’s apparent suggestion, per Die Welt, that Europe give up its Enlightenment values for an uncertain multi-cultural future predicated on taming the crusading political ideology of Islam (in its current Daesch manifestation memorably described by French Socialist Prime Minister Manual Valls as “islamofascism”), means she might well have sealed her own fate and that of the miasmic EU project. (For more on Europe and its Judeo-Christian heritage see here)
Curiously it was Merkel, then French president Nicolas Sarkozy and British Prime Minister David Cameron who within days of each other back in early 2011 announced that multiculturalism was a failure and should be jettisoned in favour of assimilation for migrants. (See here). Die Welt has not said so but it appears that Captain Merkel both navigates blind and blows in the wind on certain issues, neither attributes likely to do much to reassure worried and disillusioned European voters still very angry about the mishandled 8-year long EU sovereign debt crisis that has impoverished the middle classes .
The mood of the proverbial man-in-the street might well be encapsulated in the tweet below:
— Greig Markham (@BearGardenMan) September 24, 2015
For as Gideon Rachman (writing above) goes on to note: “… the ‘temporary’ re-impositions of internal frontiers within the EU’s border-free Schengen zone are very likely to harden into permanent controls. Question marks over open borders will easily shade into wider issues about access to the welfare system and to the labour market. That is because EU countries are realising that — in a border-free single market — a unilateral change of asylum rules by Germany had implications for the immigration policies of all EU members…”
As Germany flounders over how to handle the deluge its once untouchable Chancellor has brought down on Europe’s most economically powerful state, and even threatens those who object to sharing the migrant burden she has almost single-handled fuelled, the grass-roots around Europe are vociferously rejecting the vast migrant mass on the move.
This is mainly because these same taxpaying European citizens are horrified at how these masses have marched paperless and unstoppable across sovereign borders, asylum shopping with impunity, demanding money, rejecting Red Cross branded food parcels, and leaving huge trails of trash and soiled facilities behind them. See Part Two here
These same taxpayers also believe the media and politicians are lying to them about who all these paperless illegals really are. The number of video clips being shared via You Tube, Vimeo and similar platforms, showing scenes totally ignored or distorted by the mass media, have only served to heighten the concerns of those the political elite now denigrate as “populists” (See Part Two of this two-part report for links) .
Watch this sample clip with English subtitles from Hungarian TV, and published on Sep 25, 2015. To activate English subtitles, click the icon in the bottom right-hand corner:
Interestingly in France at a time when a recent Elabe poll for BFM TV showed 80% of French people wanted to restore border control; where an earlier Le Monde poll showed 74% of the French felt Islam was incompatible with the values of the republic and other opinion polls continue to show a majority are against accepting refugees from Syria and Iraq, Le Point magazine has rehabilitated a voice which 43 years ago warned of a future where a ‘tidal wave’ of Third World immigration would “engulf and destroy” Europe.
Meanwhile in Hungary according to a report in the London Daily Telegraph : ” A poll conducted earlier this month showed that some 82% of Hungarians favoured tighter immigration controls, reflecting how for many Hungarians, being a “monocultural society” is seen as a source of pride rather than concern”.
“Homogeneity is seen as a value, and this is difficult to understand in the West,” said Konstanty Gebert, an expert with the European Council on Foreign Relations think-tank … Zoltán Kovács, spokesman for Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orbán warned of a growing disconnect between ordinary European voters and most of Europe’s political masters on the migrant issue. “If you take a look at the most polls across Europe, it is very visible that most Europeans see migration as the most important issue, and their view is now at odds with those of the leaders of Europe,” he said.
Zoltán Kovács later told the French leftwing magazine Marianne that Hungary was committed to “restoring order to European borders”. As reported in its October 8 issue Kovács said: “More than 170,000 migrants illegally crossed our Schengen border in nine months this year of which 160,000, coming from 100 different countries asked to be classified as ‘asylum seekers’. One third of this number claimed to be from Syria, 24,000 from Kosovo, many others from Iraq and Afghanistan. On August 1 we drastically cut back the time for processing these requests to 15 days, but in most cases it is impossible to verify the true identity of these migrants. We believe there is an organised aspect to this influx, aggravated by the open door invitation issued by Germany.”
He said Germany’s demand (issued with threats and reiterated by the EU commission in Brussels) that the rest of the EU share the massive migrant inflow burden prompted by Merkel’s emotional embrace, was “putting the cart before the horse. Until we control Europe’s frontiers we have no idea how many migrants are entering our countries and thus how many need to be dealt with … the current situation is unacceptable: the migrants mainly moving around with no documents are impossible to properly identify and are allowed to enter the Schengen space as and when they so wish, without our being able to detain and arrest them, except by using force. They respect none of the laws that apply to asylum seekers. In theory if they are registered first in Hungary as asylum seekers it is there they should remain not move off at will to Germany! They don’t and can’t have the same rights as European citizens”.
He added: “Under the new legislation Hungary introduced from September 15 that criminalises anyone illegally crossing the border or in anyway damaging the fence, arriving migrants will be met by a system that applies internationally for controlling migrants. Judges will be present at border posts or via video link and hear asylum requests either immediately or within a very short time. Our view however is that those arriving at the Hungarian-Serbian border are in fact illegal migrants because once they quit Syria for a nearby safe state their lives are no longer in danger. It is they who are now voluntarily risking their lives by travelling another 3000 kms to our border…. the drastic measure we have taken (new laws and a fenced border) are designed to restore order to the borders of the European Union.”
Here via Open Europe is a summary of the current state of German political disarray as of October 1: “Die Welt reports that Germany’s Interior Minister Thomas de Maizière has contradicted German Chancellor Angela Merkel by renewing his call for an EU-wide cap on the number of asylum seekers. Addressing the Bundestag this morning, he said, ‘In my opinion, we need to agree on fixed quotas for the generous reception of refugees, but we should also limit the capacity.’ As the number of new arrivals in Germany hit a record high of 200,000 in September, the Interior Minister is also considering setting up “transit zones” on the country’s borders to assess asylum claims, and return those who are unsuccessful immediately, reports DPA.
“Discontent towards Merkel’s crisis management continues to grow within her CDU/CSU party ranks and amongst the federal states. ‘Limit, accelerate, return – these are the most urgent tasks,’ said Reiner Haseloff, the Minister President of Saxony-Anhalt, ‘The absorption capacity is almost exhausted.’ Die Welt reports that unemployment amongst those who have gained asylum has risen 20% to 161,000 in comparison to last year. Meanwhile, the number of those claiming unemployment benefits rose 23% from July to 436,000. Separately, 5,000 people protested Germany’s asylum policy in a march lead by the anti-immigration and anti-euro AfD party in Erfurt yesterday.
“Slovakian Prime Minister Robert Fico confirmed on Wednesday that the country will push ahead with legal action at the European Court of Justice against the EU plan to use quotas to distribute 120,000 asylum seekers. Speaking at the UN General Assembly in New York, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán called for global refugee relocation quotas saying that the EU is ‘not able to carry this burden alone.’
(Source: German Interior Ministry, EurActiv, Die Welt, Die Welt 2, Die Welt 3, Reuters Deutschland, Spiegel Online, Handelslblatt, Süddeutsche Zeitung)
Meanwhile despite the approaching winter the true numbers of mainly undocumented migrants moving into Europe change almost daily. this has added to the confusion facing EU governments. For it effectively renders obsolete an earlier deal under which Brussels imposed a complex formula obliging all EU member states — including those most vehemently opposed such as the four countries of the Visegrád Group: Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia — to share the migrant burden. For example and according to an October 1 Reuters report: “The UNHCR or UN refugee agency expects at least 1.4 million refugees to flee to Europe across the Mediterranean this year and next, a sharp rise from initial estimates of 850,000. ‘UNHCR is planning for up to 700,000 people seeking safety and international protection in Europe in 2015,’ reads the document, a revision to the agency’s existing appeal for funds. ‘… It is possible that there could be even greater numbers of arrivals in 2016, however, planning is based for the moment on similar figures to 2015.’ UNHCR launched the appeal on September 8 with preliminary plans for 400,000 refugee arrivals in 2015 and 450,000 in 2016. But the 2015 figure was surpassed within days of its publication, and by Sept. 28, 520,957 had arrived.”
And what of the French attitude to Merkel’s moment of madness?
That would be a France with more than 3 million long term unemployed, (in a Europe with, in some places, 50% youth unemployment) a stagnant economy since the 2008 GFC or Great Financial Collapse caused an unresolved sovereign debt crisis, a Muslim population of mainly North African origin and reportedly making up between 5% and 10% of the population (no formal statistics are collected) and a largely left and centre-left political class paralysed by the non-stop rise of the right, epitomised by the Front National.
It is this France that L’Express’s latest cover story mirrors with its headline: Pourquoi les Français ne veulent pas des migrants (Migrants: Why the French don’t want them).
The reasons for this lack of French hospitality have been identified say L’Express writers Elise Karlin and Eric Mandonnet.
These include: Loss of social status, the “great population replacement” (a popular theme of rightwing writers and intellectuals who claim that importing millions of immigrants, many of them Muslim, is aimed at changing the makeup of European culture and society forever. See above, and the many Internet references to the Pan-European movement of Richard Nikolaus von Coudenhove-Kalergi, founder of the first popular movement for a united Europe) and a fear of Islam; but politicians are struggling to overcome these”.
“Obviously, what I am about to say is absolutely off the record,” a leading politician tells the magazine, “but the phantom that lies behind this (unwillingness to accept more migrants) is that of the grande remplacement, the great replacement. It is no longer just a question of the refugee influx from a destabilized Middle East, but rather of migrants flocking in from the four corners of the globe; with one set of anxiety-causing reports chasing another – the latest being those saying hundreds of ‘false Syrians’ have been found among the refugees.”
The story behind this French angst does not date from this summer migrant crisis, says L’Express. “This debate is part of a back story: that of the descenseur social or the social elevator in reverse – we no longer look upwards in expectation of improvement but downward in fear of levelling down; and of cultural insecurity”, says Gilles Finchelstein CEO of the Jean-Jaurès Fondation. These two elements are in turn crystallised through society’s views of “foreigners” and “Muslims”, he adds.
“Certainly the French show openness and generosity, but they also pose two questions. ‘And me? I agree we should help others, but not to my detriment,’ notes Brice Teinturier, CEO of the pollster Ipsos France … ’60-65% of our compatriots feel that there are too many foreigners in our country’.”
“Bernard Sananès, head of the Institute Elabe, describes the volatility thus: ‘The country swings between fear and emotion and from emotion back to fear. There is emotion, which drives them to support humanitarian actions for refugees, but at the same time there is fear, fear virtually of almost everything. And those expressing the strongest rejection of migrants are those at the grass roots level, the ‘populists’ ( fertile recruiting ground for the FN in fact).”
“There is a victimhood competition underway in which the current economic crisis plays an important role. There is also a relationship between concerns over immigration which is exacerbated by a fear of Islamic fundamentalism.”
The L’Express report cites the OECD’s International Migration Outlook 2015 which says a “population explosion in Africa will become the reality over the next 35 years, Nigeria will see its population increase by 257 million people. The number of asylum applications in Europe will also rise exponentially”.
The OECD Outlook reported 600,000 asylum applications for Europe in 2014 and expects this to top 1 million by end 2015. But the OCED also notes that France is the only country among the top 10 asylum seeker destinations not to have seen an increased flow of migrants in the past two years.
“The problem is a total lack of any attempt to inform people fully in France, an unnamed senior OECD official tells the magazine. “Because this is not a cyclical crisis, but a veritable change of state across the entire planet. Due to economic, political, climatic and food causes, some 250 million people could potentially no longer be able to live where they currently live over the next 20 years,” he concludes, ominously.
So will the fears of commentators like Rachman above play out and the tensions and internal contradictions of the 63-year-old European Project cause it to collapse in a heap of recriminations, under a pile of useless euros and a migrant tsunami? Should that happen it will surely be ironic that the blame will largely fall on a childless, former East German migrant now reportedly tipped for the Nobel Peace Prize!
Story: Ken Pottinger
Click here for the second part of this two part report: Documenting the Drama: How European media and European grassroots (measured through social media) have reported the unfolding disaster and its consequences.
As it turns out candidate Merkel was NOT awarded a peace prize when the results were announced in Oslo on Friday October 9 2015.