Statement by Foreign Minister Gabriel after the Berlin Round Table on Refugees and Migration

29.05.2017 - Press release

Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel issued the following statement today (29 May) on the margins of the Berlin Round Table on Refugees and Migration attended by Filippo Grandi, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees; William Swing, Director General of the International Organization for Migration (IOM); Louise Arbour, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for International Migration; Elhadj As Sy, Secretary General of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), and Dimitris Avramopoulos, European Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship.

The new US Administration’s rejection of western policy consensus is only making the challenges of migration greater. Three major factors drive migration: climate change, wars, and political and religious persecution. These problems are only becoming greater as a result of the US’ new isolationism. Moreover, arms exports increase the risk of war, while ignoring climate change destroys the livelihoods of many peoples.

The Trump Administration wants to quit climate agreements, arm crisis-hit regions and ban people from certain religious groups from entering the US. If Europeans do not take a resolute stand against this today, the migration flows to Europe will become even larger. Those who do not oppose this US policy make themselves complicit.

If the US quits the agreement on climate protection, it will cause further migration flows. The link between the impact of climate change and the increase of migration flows is self-evident. The drying up of ground, lack of food and an inadequate water supply lead to famine and epidemics – and thus to movements of people, who first move from rural areas to cities and then, because it becomes too crowded there, to Europe. And in the meantime, many young and easily influenced people are, in the worst case, radicalised religiously. Those who do not recognise these mechanisms are not equal to the global challenges of politics.

Those who accelerate climate change by doing less to protect the environment, sell arms to crisis-hit regions and are not willing to solve religious conflicts by political means thus put peace in Europe at risk. The short-sighted policies of the US Administration are contrary to the interests of the European Union.

We Europeans must fight for more climate protection, religious enlightenment and fewer arms, as the Middle East and Africa will otherwise become further destabilised. Obsolescent ideas such as closing borders and building walls will not solve a single problem. We can only prevent flows of refugees from Africa and the Middle East if we work together to combat climate change, rearmament and religious fanaticism. Any other approach is wishful thinking and does not solve a single problem.

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