A record-high number of refugees arrived last week in Germany, the country where most of these people fleeing Arab or North-African countries hope to make a life for themselves. After an exhausting adventure, which more often than not required crossing the Mediterranean in illegal boats, tens of thousands of people, mostly from Syria, were welcomed with arms wide open by the Germans.
“This is what international solidarity is all about!”, a group of Germans said, receiving groups of refugees. Europe however is split on this matter, considering this is the biggest migration crisis since the end of the Second World War. Germany appears to have relaxed its immigration policies, agreeing on such measures as speeding procedures to grant asylum or constructing shelters for asylum seekers.
Besides, the coalition around Chancellor Angela Merkel has adopted a 6-billion-euro package to cope with the current crisis. The agreement also provides for expanding the list of countries deemed safe, now including Kosovo, Albania and Montenegro. The purpose is to step up procedures to extradite illegal migrants in Southeastern Europe, so that German authorities might focus on those refugees coming in from war-torn countries like Syria, Iraq or Afghanistan.
Currently Europe’s best-performing economy, Germany expects some 800,000 asylum seekers this year alone, by far more than any other EU country. For the time being, Romania was spared by the wave of immigrants heading for Western Europe. Bucharest however expressed solidarity with the EU countries experiencing difficulties, and accepted to host some 2,000 refugees displaced from countries overburdened with asylum requests.
According to Foreign Minister Bogdan Aurescu, Europe needs to come up with solutions to deal with the root cause: “We need to find solutions so as to deal with the issues behind this crisis, namely in the immigrants’ countries of origin. We also need to look at the difference between being a refugee, in line with UN regulations, and an economic migrant. The debate on distribution quotas we have seen in recent months does not even touch the root of the problem. As regards the numbers that have been circulated, I once again want to make clear the European Commission or any other European institution has so far elaborated no official document in this respect. There is no such option on the table so far”.
The British press last week wrote that Romania was expected to take in some 7,000 refugees, but high-level officials in Bucharest quickly dismissed the information.