Will Cologne change Germany's refugee policy?
In the wake of the mass sexual assaults on women on New Year's Eve, the coalition government in Berlin is discussing consequences such as tighter deportation regulations for criminal foreigners this Monday. Some commentators advise the German government to stick to its level-headed migration policy. Others accuse Merkel of sparking an invasion and jeopardising European cohesion."
Mrs Merkel: yes you can!
Angela Merkel must not give up yet, urges the liberal daily Jutarnji list: "The attack in Cologne puts an end to the back-and-forthing with which Merkel saved the other member states in the refugee crisis. France is paralysed with fear in view of the presidential elections in 2017. And no one seriously counts on the British any more. In the East the neoconservative anti-immigrant coalition is gaining ground from the Adriatic to the Baltic. In the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Estonia, no one wants the refugees. And on top of all that there's the new alliance between Orbán and Kaczyński. And now Sweden, Denmark and Norway, which have always shown a huge awareness of human rights and solidarity, are closing their borders to the victims of war in the Middle East. The German chancellor did a great job in 2015. Can she do the same in 2016? Mrs Merkel: yes you can!"
Germany's calm reaction good for Europe
Following the sexual assaults in Cologne and other German cities Chancellor Angela Merkel has announced plans to examine the introduction of more stringent regulations for the deportation of criminal foreigners. Fortunately Germany is reacting calmly rather than suddenly sealing off its borders, the centre-left daily La Repubblica comments: "The clear yet at the same time carefully reflected resolve of the German leadership is based on the conviction that the motives behind the chancellor's refugee policy are still valid. … For demographic and geopolitical reasons Germany (and Europe) have no economic future without immigration. And the refugees are a phenomenon of global dimensions which no European nation, not even 'powerful Germany', can tackle alone. Unless one succumbs to the illusion that salvation lies in building new but unstable walls."
Fatal blow for culture of welcoming?
The mass assaults on women on New Year's Eve in Cologne could end up changing Germany's migration policy, comments the Christian daily Kristeligt Dagbladet: "Naturally we can't tar all Muslim men with the same brush, but it would be wrong to close our eyes to the deep cultural and religious differences that make integration so difficult. There must be an open discussion about this in Germany, which is often so hysterically politically correct, and also here in Denmark. German Chancellor Angela Merkel was absolutely right to insist in her New Year's address on 'our values, our laws and our rules apply to everyone who wants to live here'. But it's unclear how she plans to make those who have difficulties integrating accept those values and rules too. What is clear is that the New Year's Eve attacks have confronted the chancellor's 'Yes, we can' assurance with reality and perhaps even dealt it a fatal blow."
Right-wing populists exploiting Cologne victims
Following the attacks on women on New Year's Eve in Cologne and other cities, the German government announced on the weekend that it would tighten asylum laws and reinforce the police and judiciary: The incidents must not be allowed to destroy Germany's "Willkommenskultur" (welcome culture), Doris Akrap writes in the centre-left daily The Guardian: "Nobody ever said that the refugees, even when they were wrapped in insulation blankets after arriving over the Mediterranean, were all angels. But my fear is that Willkommenskultur could end up as nothing more than a slogan. The people who always wanted it to fail, who believe in a Germans-only state, are abusing the fears and insecurities we all have over the background of the new arrivals. And more than that, they are abusing the dozens of women who were victims of assault on New Year's Eve."
Merkel has Europe on her conscience
Angela Merkel has put European cohesion at risk with her refugee policy, the oppositional website e-vestnik comments: "Merkel will probably have to step down this year. But what about Europe? A few European countries have already suspended the Schengen Agreement. They justify this by pointing to the wave of refugees from Greece. But how is Greece supposed to defend its 13,000 kilometres of coastline when Merkel is inviting the refugees to come? Before she did that the flow of refugees was constant but controllable. But by forcing the entire EU to take in more refugees Merkel has triggered a full-blown invasion. The EU is collapsing, the UK wants to leave and there is the threat of unpredictable conflicts between the member states."