Asylum agreements with third countries will not be a game changer

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German Interior Minister Nancy Faeser on Thursday tempered expectations for possible deals to process asylum applications outside the EU, arguing that a plan was unlikely to change the situation Germany faces.

Efforts such as Italy’s deal to send some asylum-seeking migrants to Albania would not be a “game changer” for asylum policy and would have no discernible impact on the number of asylum seekers, Faeser said on Thursday.

Some German politicians have pushed the country to pursue a similar plan, hoping to reduce the number of asylum seekers in the country.

In Albania, “a maximum of 3,000 refugees has been agreed there. That is a very small number,” Faeser said during a meeting with the interior ministers of the sixteen German states.

She also pointed to Britain, which has been working for 18 months on a similar agreement to send refugees to Rwanda. Faeser said these efforts have also still not produced a viable model.

Instead, Germany must rely on recent reforms to the EU’s common asylum system, CEAS, to process migrants. She mentioned the possibility of faster asylum procedures at the EU’s external borders and a fairer distribution of refugees among EU countries.

“These external border procedures will greatly reduce the burden on us here,” Faeser said.

Michael Stübgen, the interior minister in the eastern state of Brandenburg, also expressed skepticism about third countries’ plans. The Conservative politician said Britain’s costly experience with Rwanda is not encouraging.

“This is a possible project that will be very complicated and will also not be easy to arrange legally,” Stübgen said. “But I’m glad I’m convinced it should be tried.”

Scholz to address state leaders

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz will meet separately with the leaders of Germany’s 16 states in Berlin on Thursday, where issues of irregular migration are expected to be at the top of the agenda.

Faeser is also expected to present the results of a study by her ministry into possible legal options and models for a third-party asylum scheme. The question of which country might be willing to accept asylum seekers from Germany has not yet been answered.

Some conservative opposition lawmakers from the CDU/CSU bloc have called on Scholz’s government to strike such a deal, something that has been sharply criticized by human rights and migrant advocacy groups.

Another important topic of discussion is the possible resumption of deportations of Afghans and Syrians from Germany convicted of serious criminal offenses or suspected of being radical Islamists.

Germany halted deportations to Afghanistan after the Taliban, a radical Islamist group, seized control of the country in August 2021.

But resuming deportations to Afghanistan and war-torn Syria is a hot topic in Germany, especially after the killing of a police officer by a knife-wielding Afghan migrant during an attack in the German city of Mannheim in May.

Scholz spoke out in favor of resuming deportations to both countries.

‘Soon clarity about deportations to Syria and Afghanistan’

Faeser expressed confidence Thursday that the country will quickly find ways to deport immigrants convicted of serious crimes or considered Islamic threats to Afghanistan and Syria.

“We are conducting concrete negotiations about this and are confident that we can achieve this for this group,” Faeser said on Thursday during a meeting with the interior ministers of the sixteen German states, just outside Berlin.

There are only a small number of such people, Faeser emphasizes. She said the German government was exploring the extent to which repatriation via neighboring countries would be possible in the case of Afghan nationals, citing Uzbekistan as a country that had previously been discussed.

However, Faeser did not want to publicly mention the names of countries with which talks are ongoing, for fear of endangering “the concrete negotiations we are currently conducting.”

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz attends the meeting of the German cabinet in the Federal Chancellery.  Kay Nietfeld/dpaGerman Chancellor Olaf Scholz attends the meeting of the German cabinet in the Federal Chancellery.  Kay Nietfeld/dpa

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz attends the meeting of the German cabinet in the Federal Chancellery. Kay Nietfeld/dpa

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