In the meantime, 200 German cities, towns or districts have declared themselves “safe havens” and are ready to take in more stranded refugees or those rescued at sea from distress. The Seebrücke Alliance announced this on Tuesday, which launched the initiative in the summer two years ago.
The municipalities of Seebrücke met the chancellor for the first time on Tuesday. They want to get involved outside of the distribution mechanisms that apply to people who have already arrived here or who come to Germany through national humanitarian or UN programs. The legal situation of such admissions – for example, whether the municipal level may take such initiatives at all – is unclear; Federal Interior Minister Seehofer has so far rejected them.
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His house originally indicated that his contacts were the countries. However, weeks ago he also refused approval from Thuringia and Berlin for admission programs set at the state level. Both countries may want to sue. In addition to Berlin, Potsdam is also a member of the Seebrücke, the mayor of Potsdam, Mike Schubert (SPD), coordinates the initiative.
The mayor of Potsdam sees “signs of appreciation”
Schubert was pleased in a conversation with the Tagesspiegel on Tuesday evening and, after the virtual meeting of his OB colleagues, for which the chancellor lasted about two hours – and according to guests – the city leaders and district administrators left a lot of speaking time. “I see the conference with the Chancellor as a mark of appreciation for the cities involved in the alliance,” said Schubert.
After all, it is “not an alliance of the mayors, but of the cities”. Behind it are democratically elected city and town councils that have decided this. He did not expect that now, after two years, all problems would be solved with one meeting: “I think further discussions are needed and that it should not be just an exchange of views,” said Schubert.
He argues for a working group consisting of federal, state and municipal umbrella organizations “to add a voluntary component to the rigid distribution key”. Currently, newcomers are distributed among the countries according to the so-called Königstein key, depending on the prosperity and population of the respective regions.
SPD leader wants to see action
Interior Minister Horst Seehofer did not participate in the video conference with the Chancellor. His refusal puts the CSU politician under increasing pressure from his own party family. Over the summer, North Rhine-Westphalia Prime Minister Armin Laschet (CDU) was shocked after a visit to the slums in the Greek islands, and his Free Democratic Minister of Integration, Andreas Stamp, called for an extraordinary federal state conference in the summer to establish a line. The Tagesspiegel reported in August that Seehofer had decided on the sensitive issue on his own without the intervention of the cabinet.
More state admission programs could follow – Bremen, which ruled red-red-green like Berlin and Thuringia, was already thinking about it in the summer. Bremen’s … Integration Senator Anja Stahmann sharply criticized Seehofer at the time and implicitly questioned the legal basis for his no to the two states: “Under the Residence Act, any federal state can accept people for humanitarian reasons. It is not the job of the federal government. government to refuse such offers “said the green politician.
Esken: “Action must be taken.”
The churches are also exerting pressure. The chairman of the Council of the Evangelical Church in Germany, Bishop Heinrich Bedford-Strohm, said in the summer that he did not understand “why the Minister of the Interior disagrees”. The Protestant Church is now itself funding sea rescues in the Mediterranean. Tuesday’s meeting with the Chancellor, which has already been postponed, gives new visibility to the Seebrücke initiative and with it the state and local programs.
The SPD leadership also spoke out positively on Tuesday: SPD leader Saskia Esken spoke out for involving the municipalities more in the reception of migrants from Greece. “The time for deliberation is over, action must be taken”, she told the “world”. There are plenty ready to do that.
The problems have long been known, but Federal Interior Minister Horst Seehofer (CSU) “is deliberately getting in the way of these efforts, blocking the admission of people in need of protection”. The coalition decided on a federal admission quota to be implemented before winter arrives in the camps. “We are of course still striving for a fair European distribution key, but that should not mean that Germany will until then refuse to take in people who need protection in a regulated way.”
Mayor of Cologne: signal to the rest of the EU
Her party friend Burkhard Jung, the mayor of Leipzig and president of the German Association of Cities, spoke out for more local participation. After initially promising protection to about 1,550 migrants after the fire in Moria, Germany, he now expects that the distribution will take into account the cities that have expressed their willingness to accept.
However, there are different opinions in the alliance. Seehofer’s promise to allocate a very large number of refugees to the willing communities does not mean more people will be admitted.
The mayor of Cologne, Henriette Reker, told the editorial network Germany that if Germany acts, it is an important humanitarian signal to the other EU countries. Reker was also invited for an interview at the Chancellery. Pier organizer Liza Pflaum criticized the German government’s hesitant approach.
“It is a big problem that both the Union and the SPD are trying to keep the issue out,” she said. “Every time there is a fire somewhere – in Moria for example – there are public statements. Otherwise, the subject will be swept under the table. “