Merkel defends her refugee policy

German Chancellor Angela Merkel defended her refugee policy in a talk show on Sunday. She said cooperation with Turkey and a pan-European solution remained the cornerstones of her policy. Can she stick to her course?

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The Times (GB) /

Merkel must accept harsh realities

Angela Merkel needs to rethink her stance if a deal is to be reached at the EU-Turkey summit on Monday, the conservative daily The Times advises:

“[No] deal struck next week will hold as long as Germany refuses to set an upper limit on the number of Syrian refugees it is willing to accept. … The continent that welcomed Eastern Europe with open arms a generation ago is slowly realising that it cannot extend the same welcome to the victims of turmoil in the Middle East. It can lead the effort to help them, but only if Mrs Merkel subordinates her instincts, formed in 1989, to the harsher realities of 2016.”

Delo (SI) /

Yes, the Chancellor still can do it

Merkel seems isolated but her plan isn't unrealistic, writes the centre-left daily Delo:

“Although it seems as if the chancellor is looking at the ruins of her humanitarian policy after six months, sticking to her guns has become her last hope. The scenario she has painted is doable. Greece can protect its borders more efficiently if it receives help. The Nato mission in the Aegean could help solve the problem. Measures taken by Turkey on its own soil, as well as several billion in EU aid for refugees, could reduce the flood of migrants. Rather than giving in to Austria and the West Balkans' predilection for pseudo-solutions it would be worthwhile to patiently seek a pan-European solution that doesn't leave anyone in the lurch. But Angela Merkel doesn't have any real allies to support her efforts, either in the Dutch EU council presidency or in the EU Commission.”

Hospodářské noviny (CZ) /

Sooner or later she must produce results

Angela Merkel is just as isolated after her TV appearance as she was before it, the liberal business daily Hospodářské noviny observes:

“She has no competition either at home or outside her country. And she remains convinced that partial solutions like the closing of national borders contravene the principles of the European Union. But her policy has failed to produce any results so far. Her appeal was: 'Trust me and give me a little time.' Or to put it in biblical terms: 'Faith can move mountains.' Merkel's insistence on principles is admirable, especially since she is usually criticised for being too pragmatic. But in real life, although faith and convictions are important, it is often more important to have people who share those convictions.”

Der Standard (AT) /

U-turn can't be ruled out

It could be that Angela Merkel is only defying her party, her people and the headwind from Europe for the time being the centre-left daily Der Standard speculates, noting that she has a track record of changing course:

“Crucial for what happens next won't be the EU-Turkey summit on March 7, but the legislative elections in the states of Baden-Württemberg, Rhineland-Palatinate and Saxony-Anhalt on March 13. Merkel's next steps all depend on how well the CDU fares and - in the worst case - the outcome of the foreseeable rebellion in her party and the CSU. No one, however, believes that Merkel's fate would be sealed if that happened. Because there are other possibilities. She may well do a turnaround on refugee policy, as she has done on nuclear power, compulsory military service and the minimum wage. Then Germany too will set an upper limit on the number of migrants it takes in.”

Frankfurter Rundschau (DE) /

Germany needs a plan B

There are alternatives to Merkel's policy, the centre-left daily Frankfurter Rundschau comments, and that doesn't mean Germany closing its doors completely on refugees:

“In addition to the efforts to fight the causes and control the migration, equal effort must be put into adjusting the social infrastructure of a population that is expanding through immigration. … Two million refugees - if it really is that many - represent an additional two and a half people per 100 inhabitants. It's no simple task. But the homes and schools, jobs, social workers and police we would need for this expanded Germany: this we can promise to deliver. And then pay for it from our country's vast but unjustly distributed wealth.”