After the Refugee Summit: pan right

The Greens are in the process of giving up their principles in asylum policy. The appeasements of the party leadership cannot be trusted.

A person on a fence

This fence in the Spanish enclave of Melilla separates Africa from Europe Photo: Jesus Blasco De Avellaneda/Reuters

More deportations, more safe countries of origin, expanded powers for the authorities and asylum procedures at the EU’s external borders: SPD Chancellor Olaf Scholz not only promises the federal states an extra billion euros for the reception and accommodation of refugees, but also a much more restrictive course in the asylum policy. If what the federal and state governments agreed to at the refugee summit on Wednesday is implemented, then the traffic light coalition will make a drastic shift to the right.

That the SPD and FDP are willing to give up the goal of a more humane and modern asylum policy is pathetic, but not surprising. What is really new and therefore frightening is that parts of the Greens also seem ready to agree. The party made it clear before the summit that the chancellery’s proposals had not been agreed with it.

And after the summit, the outrage among many Green politicians was huge. Member of Parliament Julian Pahlke, for example, complained that the rule of law was being “extensively undermined”. And his colleague Karoline Otte said: “For me as a Green member of parliament, red lines were crossed here.” Only the two come more from the second row of the parliamentary group. In the meantime, one can no longer be sure that the leaders of the parliamentary group and party see it the same way.

This applies in particular to the extension of the status of “safe country of origin” to the EU accession candidates Georgia and Moldova, as decided on Wednesday. As a rule, refugees from countries declared in this way do not receive asylum in Germany. So far, the state governments with Green participation in the Bundesrat have blocked all attempts to extend the status to other states.

Even before the summit, however, Green Party leader Omid Nouripour said: “Countries that have the status of EU accession candidates and are making progress in the rule of law will certainly have to be treated differently than torture states. That is certainly debatable in the case of Georgia and Moldova.”

Sounds obvious, but Nouripour makes it way too easy for itself. According to the latest reports from Amnesty International, evidence of torture persists in Moldova. And in Georgia, the opposition continues to be attacked and intimidated.

Green politicians are now as cynical as Nouripour on the subject of safe countries of origin when it comes to the planned EU asylum package. At the refugee summit, the federal government assured the federal states that it would work for a quick decision on the regulations planned by the EU Commission. They still do not provide for a mandatory distribution mechanism for refugees across all EU countries, but they do include fast-track procedures for certain refugees directly at the EU’s external borders.

Human rights organizations therefore fear a dramatic deterioration in the situation of the refugees. Countries like Greece may also continue to feel encouraged to engage in illegal pushbacks. The Greens had therefore vehemently opposed such plans in the past. Now the Green Ministers have probably signaled their approval to Interior Minister Nancy Faeser, who supports the EU Commission’s plans in principle.

Just no more trouble

Robert Habeck speaks of a “pragmatic” approach: “No one can object to the fact that we need to know exactly who is entering Europe.” Cem Özdemir adds: “We need to know at the European border who is entering the EU, where the people come from and how high the probability of staying is.” It seems as if the Green Ministers, under the impression of the heating disaster and the Graichen affair, are ready to give up their human rights principles without a fight. Just no more trouble.

Sure: Habeck, Özdemir and Nouripour attach conditions to their position: Habeck also wants to ensure more “humanity” in EU asylum policy and Özdemir only accepts the procedures at the EU’s external borders if a binding distribution key is also in place. But it would be wrong to rely solely on that. The Greens in this coalition have too often caved in when it comes to issues that should actually be important to them.

If it were ultimately a federal government with Green participation that declared other countries to be safe countries of origin and allowed asylum procedures at the external borders, that would be more than embarrassing for a party that wants to be seen as left-wing and progressive. It would be a catastrophe for many refugees.

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