Germany said it would take refugees, easing burden on Greece

Berlin – Germany on Tuesday agreed to take in more than 1,500 refugees living in Greece, in a challenge to other wealthy European countries that have been reluctant to help Greece, after thousands of people became homeless Thousands became homeless, destroying Europe’s largest refugee camp.

The decision was intensely debated within Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government, with some officials arguing that Berlin should wait to take action until a united EU response to the crisis in Greece. He feared that the unilateral move by Germany, showing solidarity with Greece, could create a politically unpopular notion that the country reopened its borders, as it did in 2015, when it had renamed the Middle East, Africa and Africa Had accepted more than one million people. Asia.

The government of Germany has allowed 1,553 people out of 408 families who have already been recognized as refugees by Greece to settle in Germany, Stephen Seibert, Ms. Merkel’s spokesman, said on Tuesday. Germany had already agreed to take in about 200 other refugees who have been held in Greece – about 200 unaccompanied minors, and 243 children requiring medical treatment, along with their families.

Following the agreement on the move by the chancellor and his ministers, Mr. Seibrate said in a statement, “In total, Germany will take about 2,750 people from the Greek islands.”

Ms. Merkel’s willingness to take political risks speaks to her confidence as she will hold a repeat position, her final year in office, and at a time when her popularity has grown to such an extent that From what is being seen as their effective operation, the coronavirus epidemic.

This move by Germany could increase the pressure on other wealthy members of the European Union to act, and it appears to be an implicit reprimand on their failure to reduce stigma on Greece.

Migrants packed into crowded camps on the Greek islands come from dozens of countries, but the largest number are from Afghanistan.

According to the government member, Prime Minister Kiriakos Mitsotakis, who has dramatically tightened Greek policy towards unspecified migrants, but warned that it would “somehow reward those attempting to enter the country illegally.” Not to be seen as, “according to a member of the government on condition of anonymity because this statement was not officially released by the Prime Minister’s Office.

“Rather,” the statement said, “it brings back the European debate on the issue of resettlement of refugees and the European Commission’s proposals for a general agreement for migration and asylum to provide relief for countries of first entry.” Is. Presented next week. “

Mr. Seibert said the German government was “committed to a more far-reaching European solution with other welcoming member states.” Should an agreement be reached, he said, Germany would “participate to a reasonable extent according to the size of our country.”

Under an EU agreement, Greece keeps migrants in refugee camps until their applications for asylum are processed – it can take more than a year – rather than having them pass through wealthy northern countries For those who hope to reach most of them.

Last week, Blaze destroyed the largest of those camps, Moria, on the island of Lesbos, leaving about 12,000 people, including 4,000 children, stranded without shelter or sanitation.

Germany was one of 10 EU countries that agreed to take unaccounted minors from the camp immediately after the fire, but the center-left Social Democrats, who share power with opposition Greens and conservatives of Ms. Merkel with the Left We do. Slammed the government for failing to lead.

Horst Seehofer, the German interior minister who forced the Chancellor to set a limit on the number of migrants in 2017, was allowed to enter the country at a time when the anti-German, far-right alternative Germany’s popularity Was enjoying a hike. Said that Berlin was still seeking support from within Europe.

“At this hour, there is not a single other EU country joining Germany”, Mr Seehofer told the newspaper Pseudetsche Zeitung on Tuesday. Describing the situation in Greece as volatile, he said, “We cannot wait forever.”

President of the European Council Charles Mitchell visited Lesbos on Tuesday, expressing his solidarity with the migrants as well as the local Greeks and humanitarian activists who are supporting him. He called upon all the block members to be more committed to help solve the problem.

“All European countries should garner their support for countries like Greece which are in the frontline of the migration crisis,” Mr Mitchell said. “There is no miracle when it comes to migration. We need coherent measures based on the values ​​that bring us together. “

Niki Kitsantonis contributed reporting from Athens.