Foreign Minister Steinmeier on the refugee boat disaster in the Mediterranean

20.04.2015 - Press release

Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier commented as follows in Luxembourg today (20 April) on the latest refugee boat disaster in the Mediterranean:

Almost one thousand people drowned in the Mediterranean in a terrible accident yesterday. This tragedy leaves us lost for words. And yet we have to find answers. It is therefore good that we are addressing this issue with the necessary urgency today at the meeting of Foreign Ministers together with our Interior Minister colleagues.

Unfortunately, we have no obvious answers, even though we wish we did in the face of so much human suffering.

However, we can only master this problem in the long term if we tackle the root causes of refugee flows. We therefore have to focus on the crises in the region, especially Libya. Stability and sustained success in the fight against people‑smuggling gangs, which knowingly send the refugees to their deaths, require a political agreement. In the long run, the peace talks between the Libyan parties are perhaps the last chance to save Libya from falling apart. If they manage to agree on a ceasefire and a joint government, we Europeans will have to do whatever we can to help ensure that swift progress is made in implementing this agreement and in bringing stability to the country.

Secondly, we need joint efforts to improve maritime search and rescue capabilities. Thirdly, however, an honest discussion on the distribution criteria for Europe is necessary. And fourthly, we have to step up our fight against criminal people‑smuggling gangs. This will require a concerted international alliance.

In the light of such a tragedy, many are looking for someone to blame. People are quick to point the finger at politicians, especially European politicians. Unfortunately, the truth is more complex. It is therefore all the more important that we discuss this issue frankly today without any taboos.

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