Giuseppe Conte received Angela Merkel at Villa Doria Pamphili for a business dinner. At the end of their brief meeting, the Italian premier repeated: “On migrants we need European cooperation.”
These words have already been heard, but for the moment there has been little to show for it. “Germany is at the forefront of relocation,” Conte reminded his audience once again. Yet just a few days ago Berlin announced that the German police would carry out closer inspections at the borders.
The President of the Council said “Italy and Germany must work together to face the common European responsibility in giving adequate answers to the citizens” and in trying not to “increase intolerance and disintegrating forces in the EU”. Merkel also pointed out that the two countries “have a close bilateral relationship, at European and international level”, even if these “can be intensified even more”.
But the Chancellor only offered weak support to Italy on the Libya issue. “We must talk with the UNHCR and with the leaders of the NGOs to guarantee reasonable standards and respect for human rights.” She called for “a strategy on the Balkans” while addressing the accession negotiations with the European Union of Northern Macedonia and Albania. “If a void opens, that void will be filled by others”, she explains.
On the economic front, Merkel once again pushed for a banking union “to guarantee Europe’s stability” and a unified strategy to counter the effect of tariffs: “Trade tensions have a negative impact on the economy”, said Merkel. “We must bet on the rule-based commercial world order.”
Back home, in Germany, CDU politicians – from Merkel’s own party – have called on the federal government to take warnings of a new asylum crisis on the Balkans route seriously. To fulfill the “promise of limiting migration permanently,” the federal government must “react early to alarm signals,” the deputy Christoph de Vries warned, according to a report in Die Welt.
De Vries suggested that the Balkans should be given “humanitarian support for border security and material support to provide for local migrants”. The aim is to prevent an “unhindered transit to Europe”.
His colleague Marian Wendt also called for a government response to the reports of clandestine immigration in and around Bihac. “If we do not want to experience a second Budapest, we must now support Bosnia and Herzegovina.”
Meanwhile, the speaker of the citizens’ initiative “Stop the migrant invasion” in Bihac, Sej Ramic, in the Welt am Sonntag blamed Merkel for the situation in his country. She was “to blame for this mess”. It is only because Merkel opened the “borders” that “these people are here at all”.
Currently, there are at least 10 000 migrants in the 61 000-inhabitant city, according to official figures.
In Berlin, at the Brandenburg Gate, symbol of the reunified city, thousands of people had gathered on November 9 for the anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, but a few days later, on Monday anti-migrant protests were nevertheless held in Dresden, the capital of Saxony. It has become a ritual that has been repeated since 2015, when the German chancellor decided to open the borders.
“Here people have experienced the collapse of a system first hand,”, explained Jörg Urban, local leader of Alternative für Deutschland.
“Shouting Nazism is just a way to disqualify the reasons of those who protest, traditional parties no longer know what to invent to silence dissent,” said Martin Reichardt, a deputy from Saxony Anhalt.