Things are happening quickly. For the second time in a week, the interior minister has rushed ahead to signal that Germany's days of boundless welcoming are over, now, even for Syrians. From here on, Dublin Regulations, which establish which countries are responsible for refugees, are to be in effect for all countries of origin. That means that Syrians that flee to Europe must also apply for asylum wherever they first set foot in the European Union. Should an applicant nonetheless continue on to Germany, officials here could then deport that refugee back to the EU country of first entry. In late August, for humanitarian reasons, but also in an attempt to relieve the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF) of the tedious process of screening each individual refugee arriving in Germany, Chancellor Angela Merkel exempted Syrians from the procedures dictated by the Dublin Regulation. Meanwhile, however, hundreds of thousands have arrived here; among them, some who merely claim … [Read more...] about Opinion: Dublin Regulation for Syrian refugees
The way in which Turkey is commemorating events shows just how far it has distanced itself from Europe. This weekend, Turkish leaders will stage a pompous mass rally of the sort that one usually only sees in people's republics, when it commemorates the first anniversary of last year's failed military coup. It is designed to celebrate "the victory of democracy" at the same time the country is divorcing itself from that ideal. Everything in this new state is directed toward President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Since that fateful night, he has styled himself as the hero that re-established Turkey by crushing the coup. Replacing Ataturk's Republic Although Turks have regularly re-elected Erdogan and his Justice and Development Party (AKP) since 2002, they had consistently rejected Erdogan's "New Turkey" project. The idea called for a presidential system aimed at replacing Turkey's parliamentary democracy. Then, one year ago, the failed coup provided the momentum needed to replace Ataturk's … [Read more...] about Opinion: No victory for democracy in Turkey
Brilliant chess players are the ones who baffle both opponents and spectators when they manage to maneuver themselves out of a hopeless situation. Joseph Blatter pulled off one of those moves on Tuesday night with his decision to step down as FIFA president at an extraordinary congress of the organization. "Blatter splits" predicted the cover of Germany's "Bild Zeitung," but - as often - it proved to be wrong: Blatter is not splitting. In the same breath, he promised far-reaching reforms and announced, "I will fulfill my duties as FIFA president until the new election." I will succeed The fact remains that Blatter is still in office. At the earliest, his successor will be elected at the end of this year, and the delay to electing a new FIFA head could even last until March 2016. In his resignation announcement, he made it clear that he wanted to use the remaining time to push through changes that have been blocked by his opponents, adding, "This time I will succeed." Such a … [Read more...] about Opinion: Blatter system encompasses more than one man
German Chancellor Angela Merkel, the most powerful female leader in the world, has made waves across the Atlantic. Her words have sparked heated debate on whether or not we have reached an historical turning point in German-American relations. The intensity of the media reaction possibly surprised the Chancellor, even though she did nothing but state the obvious. Whatever traits may be attributed to US President Donald Trump, reliability isn't one of them. - Merkel: Europe can no longer rely on US and UK - How the world reacted to Merkel's pivot on Europe This is election year To be precise, she wasn't only speaking in her role as the German chancellor. Her comments also reflected her position as the leader of the Christian Democrats (CDU) on the campaign trail. Merkel spoke after the frustration of this weekend's G7 summit, knowing full well that any criticism of the US, and particularly Donald Trump, would go down well with voters in Germany. Her main … [Read more...] about Opinion: Turning point in a beer tent?
Sports equipment maker Adidas, once an staunch supporter of moving facilities to countries with low labor costs, is now taking production back to Germany. This sounds like good news, doesn't it? But it's not; I'll come back to it later. US President-elect Donald Trump scored in the election campaign by promising to bring jobs back to America, particularly from China and Mexico. That, too, sounds like good news especially for Americans with low-paying jobs or no jobs at all who have been struggling to make ends meet. But it's not good news, either. Globalization an instrumentalized term Globalization is at the heart of the aforementioned developments. The term has been instrumentalized by various camps in recent years. But let's make no mistake: Global interactions in the world of business, cross-border production and the worldwide flow of goods are no invention of neoliberal and radical capitalists. In the middle of the 12th century, Low German merchants realized it would be … [Read more...] about Opinion: Protectionism a world-saving instrument?
No one will be able to say that Britons did not have a choice. The snap elections in Great Britain serve as nothing more than a second Brexit referendum. It is a historic chance to set the record straight. Nothing has happened yet: the United Kingdom is still a member of the EU and has only sent Brussels a letter of intent. But one thing should be clear and that is that no one can say, "I didn't know what leaving the EU meant!" or, "I thought Turkey would soon be a member," or, "I didn't want the United Kingdom to fall apart and Scotland to leave!" We have already put the "first vote, then think" logic behind us. Hours after the Brexit referendum, hundreds of thousands of Britons googled "What is the EU?" Please, let us not go through this again. The Brexiteers' myths have long been debunked. No one speaks of the billions for the NHS, the British healthcare system, that have apparently been flowing to Brussels instead. Is that what Theresa May had in mind when she decided to call … [Read more...] about Opinion: Yet another Brexit vote
It's time for a confession: I'm a Catholic. And I'm glad to be one. My faith gives me strength. And the good feeling that I'm more than just a quirk of nature, more than a biological accident that came out of nowhere and will eventually disappear into nothingness once again. I am a reflection of God, Yahweh to the Jews, Allah to the Muslims. This is written in the Book of Genesis, holy scripture for both Jews and Christians. And because of my faith, I - like everyone in the world - have dignity. An inviolable dignity, one that should be respected and protected. No coincidence, but this is exactly what's written in the first sentence of Article 1 of the German Constitution. The state protects my faith Whoever doesn't need the foothold of faith - that's fine. The free societies of the West don't force anyone to believe in one specific faith, or indeed anything at all. But even if the nature of my faith doesn't matter to the German state, the state nonetheless stands on the side of … [Read more...] about Opinion: Religion is not the problem
Donald Trump has done it. With a campaign built on personal insults, arrogance and ignorance, he has not only managed to mobilize the basest instincts of the constituency but has managed, with this strategy, to win the US presidential election. But there is more to it than that: Trump has not only won, he has achieved a resounding victory, claiming a higher number of electoral votes that anyone had thought possible. Trump's success is a victory for an inflammatory, partly dehumanizing, vulgar populism. It is a sharp slap in the face to the establishment and the political elite in the United States and its representative, Hillary Clinton. As an opponent, Clinton was almost equally as unpopular as Trump. Through her own carelessness, her use of a private email server provided her critics with the ammunition they needed for their constant attacks. But Clinton's unpopularity alone does not explain Trump's dramatic election victory. Trump - a vehicle for discontent Trump's victory brings … [Read more...] about Opinion: Trump’s historic election victory, the bewildered West and many unanswered questions
A few years ago it was easier to identify an overarching theme at the Frankfurt Book Fair. One recent big these was the advent of the e-book, the digital transformation that was shaking the book industry. It was a topic that returned over the course of several years. Then last year it was replaced at many trade fair booths and in discussions with the refugee crisis. This year was different. Of course there was a plethora of subjects that were making the rounds. Had the confrontation between presenters and protesters of a right-wing publisher not happened at the end of the week, then the question of how to deal with right-wing publishers would have grown in relevance. Yet the truth is: at the book fair, one would have to get out a magnifying glass to find those who sympathize with the right-wing and when found, they would not be taken seriously as intellectuals. The political guidelines as put forth by parties like the AfD are likewise not something that would be … [Read more...] about Opinion: Frankfurt Book Fair a playground for global ideas
Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont has the pictures he needs to strengthen the independence movement: Senior citizens being dragged out of polling stations by the authorities, overpowering police forces taking action against unarmed, unmasked citizens, and ballot boxes torn out of the hands of people who want to take advantage of their "right to decide." Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy had repeatedly insisted that the Supreme Court had declared the referendum invalid, and so it could not take place. He got the backing of his most important European allies for his pledge to "defend the rule of law." It could be that the dire images from Catalonia, which are hardly consistent with a European democracy, transform this support into horror and rejection. Mutual blame As expected, the two sides are blaming each other for the violence. According to the Spanish judiciary, this referendum was illegal. The supporters of Catalonian independence decided nevertheless to hold the … [Read more...] about Opinion: Spain and Catalonia — ‘Out with them all!’