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Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock: difficult decision

Photo: Emil Helms / Ritzau Scanpix / AFP

Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock (Greens) has described the German government's approval of the EU asylum compromise as one of her most difficult decisions. It was "certainly one of the most difficult political days" for her "to make this trade-off," she said at the Protestant Church Congress in Nuremberg.

She asked herself: "How do I make the status quo, the real reality, better?" The aim was "to ensure that more people are treated humanely". Unfortunately, this also includes "accepting the bitter truth that it is also worse for some".

"Inaction is not an alternative"

The agreed plans for a far-reaching reform of the EU asylum system include numerous tightening measures to limit illegal migration. In particular, a much tougher approach to people from countries that are considered relatively safe is planned. In the future, they will be accommodated in strictly controlled reception facilities after crossing the border.

She had opted for the compromise "because inaction is not an alternative," Baerbock said at the panel discussion with former German President Joachim Gauck.

"Germany cannot abstain from dealing with such an issue," stressed the Foreign Minister. "That would have led to states like Hungary and Poland setting the standard." Without the compromise, "there would have been internal national borders again," said the Green politician. Then the consequence would have been that every state would have said: I do what I want."

The Greens are deeply divided on the issue. Party leader Omid Nouripour had supported the agreement, his co-leader Ricarda Lang spoke out against it. "This agreement means a perpetuation of suffering and chaos," said Filiz Polat, migration expert of the Greens in the Bundestag, the newspapers of the Funke media group.

"As Greens in the European Parliament, we do not consider the Council's decision to be viable," said co-leader Terry Reintke of the editorial network Germany.

"We will fight for improvements in talks with the EU Commission and the European Council. In the end, we will not support an agreement at any price."