British professor Anthony Glees called Germany “a hippie state led by its emotions” in reference to chancellor Angela Merkel opening the German-Austrian border for refugees stranded in Hungary.
To me, a German, this comment is nothing short of hilarious. Germans are usually stereoyped as boring, rude, humorless and, most important, rule-abiding.
However, when Merkel recently invited refugees into Germany, she broke an important Eurpean Union rule: The European country in which a refugee first lands has to take care of him and process his asylum request. Only if he is granted that, a refugee may receive a work license and can later obtain citizenship.
This is why Hungary is overwhelmed with handling the refugee crisis at the moment – the mostly Syrian people come from the East and try to cross Hungary in order to make their way to Austria, Germany and Sweden, the wealthiest and most welcoming European states. Since Hungary is the first EU-state these refugees land in, Hungary is also in charge of registering all of them. When Merkel opened the border and took in thousands of unregistered refugees, she overrode Hungary’s authority.
So it is really not a surprise that the British think Germany has gone bloody insane. If Germany ignores rules now, what’s next? Cold tea?
While Germany does struggle to cope with the sheer amount of people streaming into the country, it is nothing compared to the struggles these people have been through. It’s not our duty as a wealthy country to help where help is needed; it is our duty as human beings.
No matter how inconvenient this situation is to us, there should be no questions about whether or not we do it. If a life can be saved, there is absolutely no excuse not to do it.
While Germany surprised me pleasantly with its willingsness to take care of people in need, unfortunately there is also a right-wing movement stretching across Europe, concentrating in Eastern Europe – specifically in Hungary. While this has been a problem in the past, the increase of people fleeing from war and hunger has consequently led to a rise in the popularity of nationalist and xenophobic groups and parties.
This is a problem Europe needs to tackle as soon as possible – and if possible, other countries too. Australia’s former Primer Minister Tony Abbott, for example, has promised to take in 12,000 Syrian refugees. Europe is getting overwhelmed. Germany already restricted the open Austrian-German border again because it lacks the manpower to deal with the amount of people. This must be a temporary occurence. Europe has to continue taking refugees in.