Tag Archives: Horst Seehofer

Seehofer rejects EU criticism of Germany’s new border control – POLITICO | Instant News

German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer on Saturday slammed EU officials for rejecting his government’s plans for a while restore again control on its borders with Austria and the Czech Republic.

“We are fighting a virus that mutates on the border with the Czech Republic and Austria,” Seehofer was told Germany’s BILD tabloid. “The EU Commission must support us and not put spokes on our wheels with cheap advice.”

Earlier this week, the German government designated the Czech Republic and Austria’s Tyrol region as so-called “mutation areas,” due to the high number of coronavirus cases caused by a variant of the virus.

According to reports on BILD and GlassThe European Commission called for Germany’s new rules to make exceptions for commuters, among others.

At a daily press conference on Friday, a spokesman for the Commission said the German government had not yet informed about planned border controls, which are expected to take effect Sunday.

“We urge Germany to implement these measures fully in line with the recommendations of the Council,” a Commission spokesman said Friday, adding that the Commission expects EU countries to follow a previously agreed general approach to travel restrictions and to avoid border closings and travel bans. that enveloped.

Seehofer also criticized European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and Health Commissioner Stella Kyriakides for their handling of vaccine launches across the continent. “That’s enough,” Seehofer the word. “The commission has made quite a few mistakes when it comes to ordering vaccines in the last few months.”

Starting on Sunday, German authorities will carry out random checks at the border and travelers from certain areas in Austria and the Czech Republic who cannot show evidence of a negative COVID-19 test may be refused, ARD reported.


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The spy looked at Germany to the far right – POLITICO | Instant News

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Does Germany need to protect its citizens from the lure of the right?

The question has sparked passion in Berlin this week as the domestic intelligence service, known by its German acronym BfV, is considering whether to put the Alternative for Germany (AfD) party under scrutiny on suspicion of right-wing extremism.

According to Germany constitution, “Parties which… their supporters behave in a manner aimed at undermining or eliminating the free… unconstitutional democratic order” and thus may be prohibited by the Federal Constitutional Court.

In order for the court to make such a decision, it needs evidence that BfV unearths first, which is why BfV has a wide range of ways to monitor a party once it is deemed worthy of “suspicion”. The appointment gives the authority the right to intercept members’ electronic communications and even implant undercover informants in party ranks.

While the AfD’s right-wing tendencies are no secret, the party is also the largest opposition group in the Bundestag, Germany’s parliament. That makes the decision whether to move the party closer to a ban extremely difficult. It also risks being seen as confirmation of one of the AfD’s core themes: that the “establishment” is out to get it.

Therefore, Home Minister Horst Seehofer has taken his time to assess the 1,000-page report sent to his ministry by BfV on whether there is any reason to put the AfD under scrutiny. Any legal setback later on will be embarrassing, like the two failed attempts to ban the neo-Nazi NPD party in 2003 and 2017, defeating Berlin to this day.

First attempt failed in 2003 when the Federal Constitutional Court ruled that a large number of BfV informants in the party, including its leadership, made it impossible to determine the extent to which the NPD had been externally controlled. Fourteen years later, the second attempt failed because judges considered the NPD a threat to democracy too insignificant to guarantee the prohibition of all parties.

Andrea Lindholz, who chairs the Bundestag’s interior committee and is a member of the Parliamentary Oversight Panel which controls Germany’s security services, expressed confidence that any decision to place the AfD under surveillance would be legally watertight. “The interior minister stressed the importance of ensuring that the decision is as safe as legally possible,” said Lindholz, a member of the Bavarian Christian Social Union (CSU), the same party as Seehofer.

The debate over whether to put the AfD under scrutiny arises as Germany is once again reflecting on the darkest chapter in its history. On Wednesday, the German parliament commemorates Holocaust Remembrance Day, with addresses by Holocaust survivors who spoke out against the AfD. Saturday marks Adolf Hitler’s 88th birthday as chancellor of the German Reich.

Germany’s handling of the case is also closely watched by countries across Europe, where the struggle to stifle the populist right-wing movement has become an enduring challenge.

After reports earlier this month that intelligence services were likely to be closely monitoring the entire AfD, the party reacted immediately. Worried about the possibility of being watched during an important election year, the AfD filed a lawsuit in a Cologne court to avoid being placed under official suspicion by the BfV.

A few days earlier, on January 21, AfD deputy chairman Jörg Meuthen, a member of parliament, published an pers conference, noting that an internal document from the Berlin state branch of the BfV concluded that “there is no sufficient factual indication of anti-constitutional aspirations on the part of AfD Berlin that can justify the elevation of the status of the suspect case. “

The fact that the AfD even had access to an internal newspaper led to irritation in Berlin, because it is highly recommended that there is a mole in the agency. Responding to the leak, Berlin’s Interior Minister, Andreas Geisel, said there were “methodological flaws” in the paper and suspended the head of the unit that compiled it.

Mainstream politicians say there are good reasons to consider putting the AfD under scrutiny. “There is no doubt that many statements by AfD politicians prove that this party is not a democratic alternative,” said Lindholz.

The lawmaker also cited the fact that a handful of people invited by AfD politicians tried to interfere with parliamentary processes last November, when the Bundestag changed a law, the Population Protection Act, to allow restrictions related to the coronavirus.

One of the offenders was filmed harassing Economy Minister Peter Altmaier. The incident sparked outrage in Berlin and across the country.

“The incident surrounding the Population Protection Act shows once again that within this party there are people who are insulting and abusing our liberal democracy,” said Lindholz.

Meanwhile, earlier this week, the BfV branch in the eastern state of Saxony-Anhalt decided to use the AfD under supervision at the regional level. Local parties have a reputation for hiding some of the AfD’s most radical members.

Suspicious spy

Back in Berlin, local media reported last week that according to sources at BfV, the person suspected of leaking internal documents to the AfD was a “Maaßen man, “An allusion to the former president of the agency Hans-Georg Maassen, who was sent into early retirement in 2018 amid allegations – which he denies – that he sympathizes with some of the AfD’s more radical views.

The issue of the alleged ideological proximity of Maaßen to AfD was also raised during a government press conference in Berlin this week, as the former chief spy worked for the law firm representing the AfD in a lawsuit the side filed in a Cologne court. An interior ministry spokesman said it should be checked whether the situation creates any legal problems.

But before the matter is taken any further, Maaßen announced Tuesday that he will do so quit working for a law firm because he can be a witness in this case.

Maaßen, a member of Angela Merkel’s CDU party but an outspoken critic of chancellor-centric currents, was once accused of advising the AfD to reduce its radicalism to become a more sustainable movement. He denies the allegations but his right-wing views, which he regularly broadcasts on Twitter and elsewhere, have earned him a reputation for being at least AfD-friendly.

Despite Maaßen’s role, calls for moderation in the AfD have grown louder in recent years, particularly from deputy leader Meuthen, who wants to allay fears that his party is a right-wing extremist ticking bomb. AfD publishes statement this month confirmed that the entire party was “fully committed to [a definition of] the German people as the sum of all German citizens “and not, as many extremists wish, the” blood “problem.

The declaration was signed by Meuthen, deputy leader Alice Weidel and many other senior AfD politicians, including Björn Höcke, the AfD leader in the eastern state of Thuringia who became famous for making frequent racist and fascist statements. Höcke, who has neo-Nazi ties and has been overseen by the BfV since last year, is also one of the AfD’s far-right extremist leaders. wing Faction (“wing”), which officially disbanded in April 2020.

But doubts remain as to whether the former radical members of the faction have really stopped collaborating and wielding influence in the party.

“Many members [Flügel], who are classified as right-wing extremists, are still active in this party, ”said Lindholz. “Höcke is still the leader of the parliamentary group in the state parliament of Thuringia. Surely all this indicates that the sudden dissolution wing in the end only fig leaves born out of necessity. “


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Germany considers halting all air travel due to coronavirus mutation | News | DW | Instant News

German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer announced on Tuesday that the German government given the ban on almost all international air travel in an effort to stop the spread of a new, more virulent strain of the corona virus.

“The dangers posed by many virus mutations compel us to consider drastic measures. That includes stricter border checks, especially on borders with high-risk areas, but also reducing air travel to Germany to almost zero, as Israel is currently doing,” Seehofer said the German tabloid Picture.

The newspaper reported that German Chancellor Angela Merkel asked Seehofer to find out what the country could do defend against spreading mutations on Sunday.

On Tuesday, Merkel told lawmakers that she opposed an all-out travel ban, while at the same time calling for a halt to tourism as the pandemic continues to spread.

The German Travel Association criticized the move which noted the severe damage that the coronavirus has done to tourism and the business travel sector: “The government should take this into account. It should not concentrate on further tightening our already severely restricted freedom of movement.”

The association said the government would be better served by concentrating on the country’s “drastic deficit” vaccination, added: “In addition, the federal government should reflect on the fact that freedom of movement is a basic right – not a privilege granted politically.”

js / aw (AFP, Reuters)


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Germany uses ’embassy hearings’ to speed up deportations | Germany | News and in-depth reporting from Berlin and beyond | DW | Instant News

Amadou was gripped with fear when he returned to his room in November. Waiting for him at a temporary facility for displaced persons was a call informing him that he would have to appear before the commission from his homeland, Guinea, in a few days.

Amadou tells DW that he knows what this means. “Since I don’t have the papers, the immigration authorities want to send me there so they can get them and my deportation, “said Amadou, who requested that his real name not be used.” But why? I didn’t do anything bad. “

Amadou’s asylum application has been rejected. He was too scared to attend his appointment on commission. “I thought then I should leave, leave my room, my friends – that there would be nothing left for me: only prison in Germany, prison in Conakry, then death,” he said, his voice cracking.

Such appointments, known as “embassy hearings,” take place throughout Germany. Delegates from the country of origin of the asylum applicant receive funding from the German federal government, with people from African countries being most frequently affected. In 2019 and 2020, more than 1,100 people from Nigeria and nearly 370 people from Ghana were called in, followed by Gambians (146) and Guineans (126). More were called in for interviews, as revealed by the German government following a request for official information from Ulla Jelpke, a member of the Bundestag for the socialist Left party.

Germany is working to speed up deportations

According to the government. This hearing is valid and necessary. “The hearings are an important means of determining the nationality of persons obliged to leave the country,” wrote a spokesman for the Interior Ministry in response to questions from DW. “Travel documents can only be issued once their nationality has been established. Checks like these have been carried out legally in Germany for many years, and their usefulness is proven.” He added that other EU countries use a similar procedure.

Audience ‘nontransparent’

The German Council on Foreign Relations (DGAP) estimates that by 2020 there will be around 250,000 people living in Germany without official residency status. While serving as Home Minister in 2018, Horst Seehofer promised to reduce this figure, and according to DGAP some 22,000 people were deported in 2019.

German officials say countries of origin share the responsibility of ensuring that they are returned if not allowed to stay, and authorities have accused African countries of being late in issuing the necessary documents that would allow deportation. This subject comes up whenever Chancellor Angela Merkel visits Africa, and several diplomats from African countries privately say that the German government is putting excessive pressure on them to comply.

Members of the German opposition party have also criticized the practice. “Any of these nasty calls is too much,” Jelpke of the Left Party told DW. “The process is not transparent, and those affected have repeatedly reported violations of their rights.” Moreover, he said, the criteria used to determine the country of origin were not at all clear. Jelpke said Sierra Leoneans had been deported to Nigeria.

Interior Ministry officials dismissed the criticism. “People are only positively identified if those conducting the hearings believe they are indeed citizens of their country,” the spokesman said. “People who are obliged to leave the country are also free to bring legal advice.”

Ghana Embassy in Berlin

Officials from African embassies, such as the Ghana embassy in Berlin, are involved in finding out the identity of asylum seekers

Guinea: Prison, torture

In 2018, the German government signed an agreement with Amadou’s homeland, Guinea, to speed up deportations. As of October 2020, 40 people have been sent back under the agreement. The West African country has been wracked by unrest for some time, since the president, Alpha Conde, decided to resume a third term following constitutional changes in March.

“Repeatedly, in recent months and years, civilians have been killed, wounded or imprisoned arbitrarily by Guinean security forces,” Jelpke said. “Deportation to the country poses a serious threat to the life and physical integrity of deportees.”

Amadou said the son of an influential commander in the Guinean security forces had abused him for years, but when he reported him to the police he was jailed. He said he had been tortured on multiple occasions and nearly killed after leaving prison. That is another reason why he cannot imagine appearing before a commission from his home country. “I don’t trust them,” he said. “I’m afraid of them. They work with the government.”

This article is adapted from German.


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German minister wants ‘criminals’ expelled to Syria, despite the asylum protection there | News | DW | Instant News

The stop of Germany’s current general deportation to Syria should not be extended, Interior Minister Horst Seehofer said Friday, urging that case-by-case decisions be made “at least for criminals and those deemed a threat.”

In 2012, Germany issued a deportation ban to war-torn Syria, regularly debates it and expands on it based on the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ periodic assessments. Currently, nearly 6,000 Syrians are facing deportations that go unpunished.

The murder of a tourist in Dresden in October, allegedly by a radical Syrian Islamist who lost refugee status in 2019, reigniting calls to expel.

on Friday, Seehofer told the dpa news agency he would press at a meeting of Germany’s 16-state interior ministers in December that the case-by-case expulsion would proceed.

The meeting will include the Syrian Foreign Ministry’s most recent assessment, with reports frequently used by local authorities across Germany to decide on the handling of their asylum seekers.

More than 1 million Syrians have been displaced in Europe since 2011, when the civil war in Syria erupted.

About 770,000 of them live in Germany, according to Mediendienst Integration (Media Service Integration), a network of migration researchers based in Berlin.

Situation in Syria ‘not getting better’

Seehofer’s appeal on Friday immediately drew objections from coalition partners and opposition politicians, saying the minister was ignoring the realities on the ground.

Boris Pistorius, the interior minister of the Lower Saxony state, said World newspaper situation in Syria “is not improving, on the contrary.”

The urge to drive out dangerous criminals is very tempting, but it will cause them to be tortured or die, said Pistorius of the center-left Social Democratic Party (SPD) in coalition with conservative Chancellor Angela Merkel – including CSU Bavaria Seehofer.

Expulsion “will not make us any better” than the persecutors in Syria, exclaimed Pistorius.

Opposition Green Party co-leader Annalena Baerbock told the Funke Media Group newspaper that Seehofer tried to portray himself as a “politician of law and order.”

As Germany’s interior minister, he knows “very well” that Syria does not have a functioning public body that can even organize repatriation, “Baerbock said.

Seehofer’s initiative crashes

Pro Asyl (Pro Asylum), a Frankfurt-based refugee and civil rights alliance that includes German churches and charities, slammed Seehofer’s initiative.

“This clearly shows that Mr Seehofer is not interested in the fatal human rights situation in the country, but in a political signal to the right,” said Pro director Asyl Günter Burkhard, alluding to right-wing voters in Germany’s next general election. in 2021.

“Syria is a country of torture and Syria is a dictatorship, the regime acts arbitrarily, and persecution can attack anyone,” Burkhard said, adding that deportation from Germany would violate international law.

Identification of ‘safe areas’

In Seehofer’s defense, Thomas Strobl, interior minister of the state of Baden-Württemberg and a member of the CDU, said World that if relatively safe areas can be identified in Syria, then dangerous criminals must be expelled.

Likewise, Joachim Herrmann, the Bavarian interior minister, said “all leverage” must be activated to remove “Syrian criminals guilty of serious crimes” from Germany.

ipj / rs (Reuters, KNA, AFP, dpa)


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