ANGELA Merkel has said Syrian and Iraqi refugees will have to leave Germany once Islamic State (ISIS) has finally been defeated.
As Germany’s open-door refugee policy comes increasingly under fire, the Chancellor has tried to silence her critics.
Despite mounting pressure to cap the number of refugees in the wake of the Cologne sex attacks which saw 130 women sexually assaulted by men, believed to be migrants, Mrs Merkel has stood her ground.
Some 1.1million migrants entered Germany last year, many fleeing conflicts in Syria and Iraq.
Mrs Merkel said: “We need … to say to people that this is a temporary residential status and we expect that, once there is peace in Syria again, once ISIS has been defeated in Iraq, that you go back to your home country with the knowledge that you have gained.”
Mrs Merkel said 70 per cent of the refugees who fled to Germany from former Yugoslavia in the 1990s had returned.
She urged other European countries to offer more help “because the numbers need to be reduced even further and must not start to rise again, especially in spring”.
Speaking to a regional meeting of her Christian Democratic Union (CDU), Mrs Merkel said said all EU states should have an interest in protecting the bloc’s external borders, and all would suffer if the internal passport-free Schengen zone collapsed and national borders were closed.
Peter Altmaier, who Mrs Merkel has tasked with overseeing the government’s handling of the refugee crisis, said the government was negotiating with some countries including Turkey about taking back criminal refugees who arrived via non-EU countries.
Speaking to German newspaper Bild am Sonntag, he said: ”That can then mean that such refugees are not deported to their home countries – if civil war is raging there, for example – but rather to the country via which they came into the EU.”
He said Germany was working closely with Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon to host most of the refugees until there was peace in Syria and Iraq.
A spokesman for his office declined to comment on the state of negotiations.
On Wednesday Mrs Merkel’s coalition government backed a new law to make it easier to deport foreign nationals who commit crimes.
Fabrice Leggeri, the head of the European Union’s (EU) border agency Frontex, said a UN estimate that up to a million migrants could try to come to Europe via the eastern Mediterranean and Western Balkans next year was realistic.
Speaking to German magazine Der Spiegel, he said: “It would be a big achievement if we could keep the number … stable.”
The influx of migrants has played into the hands of the right-wing Alternative for Germany (AfD),whose leader Frauke Petry sparked outrage when she said migrants entering Germany illegally should, if necessary, be shot.
Mrs Merkel relaxed rules on refugees entering Germany in August 2015 by welcoming unregistered refugees.
As she faced a “humanitarian emergency” with tens of thousands of refugees hoping to enter Germany, Mrs Merkel said the decision showed Germany’s “friendly face” to the world.
In the months that followed Mrs Merkel rejected claims Germany had worsened the refugee crisis as the resulting wave of migrants stretched resources and led to a backlash among many unnerved citizens.
In January, following the Cologne sex attacks, the German Chancellor promised to give authorities more powers to crack down on migrants who commit crimes, including deporting them.
Some EU countries re-established border controls within the passport-free Schengen zone, where they had been abolished.
Mrs Merkel’s administration then made a huge u-turn by turning away refugees at the German-Austrian border, with reports of up to 200 migrants a day being sent back to Austria for having no valid documents.
German interior minister Thomas de Maizier warned: “I expect that in the next weeks, the number of repatriations, voluntary returns and deportations will rise significantly.”
Source : EXPRESS UK