Tuesday, 3 November 2015

EUROPE: Merkel's ''Open-doors'' policy

Germany is facing political instability in government coalition over Angel Merkel's ''open-doors'' policy to Europe migrants crisis. Although, the polarization is not severe enough to threaten German Chancellor Angel Merkel's leadership, but she has to fight for every inch.

In eastern Europe, however the opposition to Angela Merkel's ''open-doors'' policy with respect to the coming migrants to Europe is spreading. Poland, Hungary, Slovakia, and Czech Republic are working intensively together in order to maintain the control over this migrant crisis. It will be very hard for Angela Merkel and European Commission to get all these forces within the same platform representing the same sort of policy towards the migrant crisis.

On the other hand, many people across the world do admire and fully support Angela Merkel's policy and strong humanitarian commitment in the migrants crisis. Opening up the country for a million people instead of building fences to keep them out has made her the ''lady of hope'' for many migrants. Firmly putting humanitarian helps as the imperative against Islamophobic and Xenophobic hate campaigns is something that could be remembered as her legacy to the world.

For the chairperson of a  conservative political party that was unexpected and courageous. It required political and humanitarian leadership. It resonated well with the majority of the German people who have been very generous and welcoming to the migrants coming to their country, their cities and their neighbourhoods. But it has also caused aggressive and violent attack against migrants. The political hatred on the streets of Dresden is frightening.

The criticism of Angela Merkel within her own party is growing and the migrants crisis might result in the further rise of right-wing populist parties in Germany. Something that unlike in most other European countries-for historical reasons-has remained so far on the fringes of our national politics.

Experience elsewhere shows that if conservatives move to the right in order to remain electable for a growing far-right electorate that's a recipe for decline. It merely allows the issues, demands an rhetoric of the right to enter the mainstream. Angela Merkel-criticised by many during the last decade for being a politician without a vision, without convictions and flexible to the point of opportunism-has put herself and her leadership on the frontline.

She has repeatedly and out of keeping her normal political style, very emotionally defended her policy. she has positioned herself firmly against the populist right. It is difficult to imagine of the Merkel's famous policy U-turns on this issue.

Yes, she has no answer to how to stop the flow of migrants; yes, she has no answer to how to stop the conflict in Syria; yes, Germany cannot take more millions of migrants, alone. But does anyone else have an answer? The migrants are ''humans'' and so desperate that they risk their health and lives on their long march to a safer world. Those who want to stop them have yet to say how. Poland, Slovakia, Hungary and Czech Republic would not order the army to gun down these desperate people, and even they will not let them starve. They decided to build the border fence because they are convinced that others will not dare to do the same. They are free riding on the humanitarian responsibility of others countries.

The far right makes a lot of noise, but has no practical answer to solving the migrants crisis. Again Merkel is right: if you cannot stop something the best response is to try to manage it positively. In such a crisis no everything goes well; there are many problems with housing and proper schooling; There will be considerable problems with integrating one million of migrants. There is s difference between those fleeing war and terror and those who come for understandable economic reasons. the latter cannot claim the same right to stay in Germany and they cannot expect or demand the same solidarity as those fearing for their lives. The government will send some people back to their home countries.

But the opposition and the Social Democrats should avoid the temptation of scoring cheap political points by joining the chorus of those criticising the Chancellor for failures at the margin and thereby undermining public support for the outstanding help Germany has offered migrants. It will be difficult to maintain the largely positive attitude towards migrants if the conservatives lose their nerves and start giving in to the sizeable anti-migrants fears and right-wing street protests.

There remains the question of why such a cautious politician as Merkel is becoming such a decisive leader on such a contested issue-one traditionally championed by greenish left. Many explanations are circulating:

1. For demographic reasons Germany needs migrants. But if the issue is seriously about attracting skilled labour, there are better ways than a flood of migrants crossing border. Angela Merkel feels reminded of 1989 when many of her East Germany country-men and women mounted a peaceful mass movement that brought down fences and walls.

In that case she would be a remarkable exception among east Germans and eastern European as none of the eastern European leaders has made that connection.

2. Some claim that she just thought there was no alternative and pragmatically decided to open borders while underestimating how many more people this would motivate to start the risky march to Europe. This looks to be the most convincing argument.

3. Others suggest that, German Chancellor, Angela Merkel's crusade for humanitarian values is part of her election campaign-no, not for re-election, but for becoming UN-General Secretary. This sounds too good to be true and far fetched ambition to be even given consideration. Not that Angela Merkel would be a bad UN General Secretary, but it would fuel a right-wing backlash against migrants in Germany.

People would interpret Angela Merkel as the ultimate cynical politician promoting a massive inflow of migrants in order to advance her own political career. Even if it would appear that she did the right thing for the wrong reason, the world would still defend her humanitarian leadership. But there is no need for that-, at least for the time being.

Nevertheless, German's Chancellor, Angela Merkel, deserves more praise for her political and humanitarian leadership on Europe's migrants-crisis. No wonder she was nominated for Nobel Prize on that respect.

By Guylain Gustave Moke
Investigative Journalist
World Affairs Expert

Photo-Credit: AFP-German Chancellor: Angela Merkel