Thuringia wants to take in refugees from the Greek camps. The minority government’s plan meets with opposition opposition.
Moria refugee camp in Greece: could some stranded refugees soon come to Thuringia? Photo: dpa
The Thuringia government cabinet has agreed to set up its own reception program for refugees stranded in Greece. By the end of 2022, a maximum of 500 people in particular need of assistance are to receive a residence permit and come to Thuringia. Unaccompanied minor refugees, women traveling alone and pregnant women are mentioned. To implement the program, however, the approval of both the state parliament and the Federal Ministry of the Interior is required.
With its decision, the red-red-green minority coalition in Thuringia has settled a dispute that had been simmering throughout May. The Justice and Migration Ministry, led by the Green Party’s Dirk Adams, had initially wanted to take in up to 2,000 refugees who are currently stranded in chaotic conditions on the Greek islands. An admission program is also provided for in the coalition agreement adopted by the Left, SPD and Greens.
The SPD did not oppose it in principle. However, state chairman and Economics Minister Wolfgang Tiefensee did not expect "symbolic politics," but rather a concept that was specifically worked out under the current pandemic conditions. Municipalities would have to be involved and financing would have to be clarified.
The Ministry of Migration has now apparently complied with these demands. According to Minister Adams, identity checks and medical examinations are a prerequisite for admission. Aid organizations on the ground could mediate. In Germany, the refugees would then have to undergo a two-week quarantine before being distributed to the districts. Before these plans become reality, however, Dirk Adams expects difficult talks with the Federal Ministry of the Interior. Adams hopes that the first refugees will be able to arrive in the last quarter of this year.
CDU, FDP and AfD are skeptical.
"The problems in the Greek camps cannot be solved from Thuringia," migration policy spokesman for the CDU state parliamentary group Marcus Malsch commented on the cabinet decision. This, he said, was Thuringia going it alone.
Like the AfD and the FDP, the CDU had always rejected Thuringia’s own admission program. It refers to a decision of the Berlin GroKo on March 8 to bring up to 1,500 children in need of special protection to Germany in a European action. It is not "about taking in as many migrants as possible, and doing so by circumventing the law on asylum and foreigners," Malsch explained. CDU approval will be necessary, however, if Thuringia’s R2G minority coalition wants to provide the money for the action.