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Germany wants camps in Italy, Greece, Turkey to sort through migrants seeking asylum


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Germany wants camps in Italy, Greece, Turkey to sort through migrants seeking asylum

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As Europe faces its worst refugee crisis since World War Two, and Germany deals with higher numbers of asylum seekers than any other EU country, euronews met Thomas de Maizière, Germany’s Interior Minister and a close ally of Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Kirsten Ripper, euronews:
Never in recent years have so many refugees wanted to come to Germany. You expect 800,000 asylum seekers will arrive this year alone. How do you plan to welcome and to assist these refugees?

Thomas de Maizière, German Interior Minister:
“First of all, this is a really striking number. That’s four times more than last year. And that’s around 43 percent of all of Europe’s asylum seekers. This is a major challenge — even for a well-organized and rich country like Germany. We need to take national measures, but also measures across Europe.
Regarding the national measures,we are facing a great challenge, which is providing decent accommodation. That is to say, getting refugees out of tents and finding them a roof as we get closer to winter. We will speed up the process. In July alone, there were approximately 83,000 who came to Germany, and in August , which is not over yet, we expect between 90 and 100,000. Over the past week alone we had more than 25,000. That’s really a lot.

euronews:
How do you explain this sudden increase?

Thomas de Maizière:
“On the Southern route — which goes through Libya, the Mediterranean and Italy — we have an increase of 5 to 10 percent compared to last year. But on the so-called Balkans route, we’re seeing an increase of more than 600 percent.”

euronews:
But do you see willingness, in Germany, to welcome these people?

Thomas de Maizière:
“For the moment, the willingness is still very big. I believe that the support of the population can be secured if two things are clear. First, we must distinguish those who are truly in need of protection from those who do not need protection — who need to be treated fairly, but then must leave our country. And second: there must be a fair distribution throughout Europe. And I’ll add: in the long run, even a very rich country like Germany could have difficulties coping with such a large influx.”

euronews:
What do you want to change? How can this be organised differently in the EU?

Thomas de Maizière:
“The European Council as well as the EU Summit have decided that in Greece and in Italy there will be so-called ‘hotspots’. These are huge admission areas where the first checks are made to see whether asylum will be given or not. We also need more intensive talks with Turkey. Turkey is doing great things at the border with Syria when it comes to taking in refugees. However, in the area of Izmir, there are thousands and thousands of people, perhaps hundreds of thousands waiting to head to Europe. Even there, I think, we may need to use European funds to build a large refugee camp to decide there who can come to Europe.”

euronews:
Your ministry has shot a video designed to prevent asylum seekers from the Balkans to come to Germany. Is this working and what’s the idea behind it?

Thomas de Maizière:
“If a country has applied to join the European Union or is already a NATO partner, if it respects democracy, then there is no reason for its nationals to ask for asylum in Europe. This is not acceptable, in fact it’s to be condemned.”

euronews:
Are you including Kosovo?

Thomas de Maizière:
“Yes, Kosovo and Albania too. Their governments are asking us to do everything so that young people do not leave their country this way. And I can imagine us saying: you must not come here seeking asylum, it doesn’t apply to you, but you can come here to work — then you can come as a migrant.”

euronews:
So you want concrete solutions, but that would depend on the countries people are coming from?

Thomas de Maizière:
“Right now I am just talking about the West Balkan States. There may be young people who want to become apprentices. They need a contract with a German company. And then generally they can come here as migrant workers.”

euronews:
And when it comes to these legal immigrants, do you also call for more tolerance in Germany, for more tolerance towards foreigners?

Thomas de Maizière:
“We have a high share of foreigners in Germany, though it varies from one region to the next. I do not see a big problem in the acceptance of foreigners who work here, who pay taxes, who behave legally, who respect German laws. We are a country of immigration, we need workers.”

euronews:
So you don’t think anything needs to be done against those who protest, who burn refugee shelters? The xenophobia is giving a terrible image of Germany to the rest of the world…

Thomas de Maizière:
“Oh yes indeed, there is much to be done. We’re seeing a significant increase of politically motivated crimes coming from the right wing: insults, hatred, violence against asylum seekers and the institutions that help them. In the first half of the year we’ve seen more of these crimes than in all of last year. In recent days, they went up again. We oppose that politically, but also with the strictness of the rule of law. In a free country, we can debate about asylum policies, but there is certainly no reason to attack or offend people who are here.”

euronews:
“How do you plan to fight those who join the Islamic State militants, the jihadists who are causing people to flee from Syria?_

Thomas de Maizière:
“This is a new phenomenon, for about a year or two we have been very concerned about it. More than 700 Germans or people who have lived in Germany have radicalised, and they go to these regions and kill or help others spread hate. About 100 have been killed. One third has returned to Germany.
Often, society does not pay enough attention to a significant part of youth who threaten to spin out of our control, and we need to tackle this issue as intensively as the police and justice are fighting it.”

euronews:
A personal question: What is your ideal ministry? You have been Defence minister, Interior minister, maybe now you want to become Chancellor?

Thomas de Maizière:
(Chuckles) “There is no ideal ministry. Each ministry has its good and its hard sides. The ministries in charge of security are more on the hard side of politics. But I enjoy that.”

euronews:
You enjoy the hard side?

Thomas de Maizière:
“Well, in some way the coach [Chancellor Angela Merkel] has always put me where the difficult issues are. And she must have thought it through.”

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