Refugee policy: finding common answers
How to deal with the refugees, or whether it is possible to find diplomatic solutions to civil wars: "these issues will preoccupy us much, much more than the issue of Greece and the stability of the euro” in the future, Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel said in her "summer interview" with the German public broadcaster ZDF.
The growing number of asylum seekers and refugees poses a "formidable challenge" to Germany. The Federation, the Länder and local authorities must work together to find common answers. "But we cannot find them if we work in the normal mode," Merkel said. "We must try to mobilise all personnel reserves."
Setting up more initial reception centres is the number one priority. Also, tents must at least be replaced by containers, and asylum procedures must be accelerated, especially for refugees from the Balkans, said the Chancellor.
Most of the countries of the Western Balkans are already in negotiations for membership into the European Union. Conditions there are not the same as in Syria, where people are persecuted. "However, we must help these countries more effectively." For example, Germany is helping out by providing training opportunities. The Chancellor announced that she would participate in the Western Balkans conference in August.
EU needs a common asylum policy
The Chancellor said that she had already discussed with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker the need for a common asylum policy within the EU as well as an assessment of safe countries of origin and shared asylum standards.
Merkel also wishes to clarify these questions with French President François Hollande. "The issue of asylum could be the next major European project, in which we show whether we are really able to take joint action", she said.
Leeway for Greece
Ahead of the Bundestag vote on further aid for Greece, Merkel argued in favour of debt relief measures. She said she was confident that the Bundestag would approve the third rescue package on Wednesday. The Greek government has worked quite differently than in the previous months; it is now fulfilling the reform requirements formulated by the international creditors as conditions for new loans.
Merkel rejected any trimming of Greece’s debt. Within the eurozone there can be no haircut, she said. However, there is still "leeway" on the extension of maturities, on interest rates, she specified. "We will do everything to ensure that Greece now quickly returns to growth", declared Merkel.
It is important for the Federal Government that the conditions cannot be modified according to who is governing a country. The conditions are now the same for all countries concerned. "And I think that was very important to strengthen the euro", said the Chancellor.