Some people support the policy of German Chancellor Angela Merkel, others are critical. Matthias Kiesler, Ambassador of Germany in Armenia, spoke about this at Media Center.
The situation that occurred as a result of big flows of refugees, mainly caused by the Syrian crisis, made the European society more intolerant and radical. This situation fosters the political success of the right-wing forces. “One of the indicators was the elections held in three states of Germany two weeks ago. The right-populist party which rejects migration and big flows of refugees got 20% of voices in one of the states and became the second largest faction. It is a matter of great concern,” he said.
The German Ambassador and experts participated in the discussion on “Escape and Migration to Europe: How to Overcome the Challenges between the State and the Society?” at Media Center on March 24.
Germany received 442.000 asylum applications last year, most of which were from Syrian refugees. “The total number of immigrants in Germany is much more - 1,1 million people. About 440.000 of them are Syrian refugees, and this refers to those whose asylum applications have not been discussed yet. So this issue is not purely German but a European one,” the Ambassador said.
The migration crisis has also created problems for fulfilling the principle of open borders in Europe. The refugees find it more difficult to go towards the Western Balkans recently. “The number of refugees arriving in Germany has dropped significantly. The number of refugees was 127.000 in December, it was 91.000 in January and 61.000 in February, but anyway these numbers are significantly lower than they were last year,” the diplomat said. The heavy burden of migration problems is on Greece now.
“About 50.000 people are in Greece illegally and 12.000 of them are on Macedonia-Greece border. On the other hand, the situation in Italy has eased. If 153.000 people arrived in Italy through the Mediterranean Sea during last year, then this number has comprised 10.000 by March of this year,” Matthias Kiesler informed.
People who arrive in Germany exceptionally for economic reasons and come from safe countries should take into account that they may be expelled some time later. For the management and reduction of migration flows the European Union cooperates with Turkey and it is confident that Ankara will fulfill its obligations assumed.
Mary Kreutzer, Head of "Missing Link” Department of Caritas Vienna Office, political scientist and publicist, said that their office conducts an awareness raising campaign about refugees among the Austrian population now. “Our mission is to organise meetings between refugees/asylum applicants and the Austrians and to make their problems more tangible and conceivable. It is very important that there is some space in a society where people can speak about their conflicts and overcome them by joint efforts,” she said, adding that there are 35.000 refugees under the care of Caritas now.
Vienna University Professor Thomas Schmidinger said that the big flow of refugees to Europe is the result of the lack of hope to live in other states of the region and reduction of UN humanitarian aid. Though Turkey is an indispensible partner for the European Union for the regulation of the illegal migration issue, it should control whether the assistance provided to Ankara reaches the addressee.
Referring to the increase of terror risk in Europe because of migration crisis, the expert said that many Europeans are concerned that there are jihadists and terrorists among the refugees but it is not realistic. “Actually the situation is quite different as terror acts were conducted by people who were brought up and civilized in Europe. Besides, a lot of young people left Europe for Syria and Iraq to join the activities of the Islamic state or other jihadist organizations such as Jabhat al-Nusra terror group.”
Matthias Kiesler said that after the terror acts in Paris and Brussels, Germany is not an exception. “This problem needs efforts concentration and control strengthening. We are not willing to create a police state but the issue needs solution,” he said.
Thomas Schmidinger said that Austria, Belgium and Denmark are leading among the states that young people leave to join the jihadist movements. “Most of them have no relations to those movements and come from catholic, atheist or protestant families. They have converted to Muslims. And racist and anti-Muslim groups in Europe use these facts to spread anti-Muslim moods and hatred,” he said.
Professor Artur Mkrtichyan, Dean of Sociology Faculty at Yerevan State University, said that German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s statement that the integration policy on migration failed was too courageous a confession.
“The multicultural concept was the basis of the integration policy on Europe immigrants. But there are universal values which we share despite religion and nation. The emphasis should be made on unifying values. We should take into account these generalities but the current policy aims at the preservation and development of own cultural features. And this promotes the creation of separated communities,” he concluded.