Merkel condemns migrant ‘holidays’ at home
As she looks for re-election on September 24, she told Welt am Sonntag that she had no regrets about her open-door refugee policy which she took to “avert a humanitarian catastrophe.”
“Taking holidays in the country in which you are being persecuted is not on,” she told the newspaper, adding that it could be a reason to re-examine an asylum case.
The issue of “holidays” has been the focus of media reports in Germany surrounding the politically divisive issue of asylum.
Die Welt last year claimed to have uncovered cases of asylum seekers travelling to countries like Syria and Afghanistan for a short trip before returning to Germany. Martin Retsch of the UN’s refugee agency, the UNHCR, said the practice was not “widespread”.
Merkel said she had no regrets over her so-called open-door refugee policy, which saw Germany accept more than 1 million migrants in 2015 and 2016, despite the deep rifts the decision caused, not least in her centre-right party.
“I would make all of the important decisions of 2015 the same way again”, she told the newspaper.
However, she admitted that EU law at the time had been inadequate to deal with the enormous refugee influx. She criticised the so-called “Dublin Regulation” on migrants, which requires those seeking asylum to register in the first EU member they enter.
It means that Italy, Greece and other EU members on the Mediterranean are forced to take in the vast majority of arrivals, most of whom come via sea.
“It is unacceptable that Greece and Italy should have to carry the burden alone only because they have the geographical location that they do and the refugees land in them,” the Welt am Sonntag quoted her saying.
Instead, refugees should be housed among the EU member states in solidarity, Merkel said.
Calls for redistribution of refugees throughout the EU under a quota scheme have met considerable resistance, particularly from the nationalist governments in Poland and Hungary.
An Emnid opinion poll on Sunday suggested Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU) was 15 points ahead of the centre-left Social Democrats (SPD). Polling has been proved deeply unreliable in other major western elections.
An estimated 46 per cent of voters have yet to make up their minds, according to a Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung poll.
Syria is not a major holiday destination at the moment. Picture credit: Wikimedia