“That’s pure panic mongering”

29.11.2018 - Interview

Foreign Minister Heiko Maas in the Saarbrücker Zeitung on today’s debate in the German Bundestag about the UN Global Compact for Migration.

Minister Maas, why do we need the UN Compact for Migration?

Migration is a reality, whether we like it or not. We can’t just pretend it doesn't exist. On the contrary, we must actively steer migration and make it more orderly. And that is exactly what the Compact for Migration aims to do. However, it will only happen if we cooperate. Migration is a global challenge. We must respond to it with a joint international effort.

Much criticism has been expressed regarding the Compact. Have you as Foreign Minister failed to build enough support for it?

The opposite is true. We tried early on to generate interest in this issue – for example through the social media and in the German Bundestag. There was not much public debate over the Compact, because everyone agreed that it takes the right approach. Only after a wave of disinformation and scaremongering on the part of the far right did it become a hot topic.

But what use is a Compact that is not legally binding?

The Compact is a political declaration of intent that has the support of the large majority of United Nations member states. This sends an important signal. We have agreed at international level to maintain certain standards with regard to migration. That lends more force to our argument that all nations should be part of the effort, for example when it comes to cooperation regarding repatriation.

The concern is that the Compact will open the door wide to migration. Do you deny this?

Yes, of course. That’s pure panic mongering. Our objectives are to prevent chaos, curb illegal migration, simplify procedures for repatriation, secure borders and fight the root causes of migration in the countries of origin. That’s what the Compact says.

Are you then guaranteeing that the UN Compact for Migration will not create any new grounds for admitting refugees?

Yes. Its preamble already clearly states that the sovereignty of states will be upheld. The question of who can enter another country as a migrant, and under what preconditions, is not answered by the Compact, but by each individual country on its own.

So what practical implications will the Compact have for Germany?

Given the current heated debate, I would like to point out that the immediate implications will be very limited. Instead, we are hoping there will be long-term effects. The Compact for Migration aims to bring standards in all member states in line with one another. This means, first and foremost, that numerous countries will need to raise their standards. If these countries meet that obligation – and by signing the Compact they have politically declared they are willing to do so – then in the long run migratory pressure on Germany will be noticeably reduced.

Interview: Hagen Strauss



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