German government divided over border transit zones

Germans differ on proposal to set up transit zones for refugees

Photo by: AP
Photo by: AP

German Chancellor, Angela Merkel.

Updated Oct 15, 2015

Germany’s governing coalition has discussed plans to set up ‘’transit zones’’ on the country’s border to host refugees who have no realistic chance of winning asylum.

Germany is a preferred destination for refugees, with expectations of 800,000 new arrivals this year. Many Germans believe that the country can’t handle the record influx.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives met severe resistance over the transit zones plans from their Social Democrat (SPD) coalition partners.

The proposal included a system that would extend to land borders in Germany. Refugees arriving from safe countries or without the proper documentation would be held for a two-day period without formally entering the country, while their applications would be considered. 

Merkel said that the proposal could help ‘’in certain cases’’ such as when people have thrown away their identity papers also she added that the method would not work ‘’for thousands of refugees.’’

Putting all newcomers into camps at a time when 6,000 to 10,000 people a day are arriving would lead to "enormous facilities with large numbers of people formally taken into custody," Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel said.

"I don't think that is legally possible, and I think it would lead to conditions we don't want to have in Germany," he added.

Germany already has many people from Kosovo, Albania and other Balkan countries, who have no chance of accepting asylum, arriving this year.

Merkel stood against the pressure of tighten border controls and sending back refugees as well as turning back refugees arriving into the country. 

"Her dominance over the party has suffered a bit," said Gero Neugebauer, political scientist at Berlin's Free University.

But he added that she could afford to stand firm. "There is no one else who is ready to be chancellor," he said. "That is Merkel's strength."

TRTWorld and agencies