Posted on August 20, 2021

As the Election Approaches, Germany Welcomes Afghan Refugees — For Now

Silvia Amaro, CNBC, August 20, 2021

German politicians have struck a welcoming tone toward Afghan refugees as voters gear up to choose a new chancellor next month, but experts warn this could be short-lived.

In recent days, Germany, like many other Western countries, has been working to evacuate German and Afghan citizens who have supported its work on the ground over the past 20 years from Afghanistan.

Chancellor Angela Merkel has said Berlin could grant asylum to about 10,000 Afghans. Germany’s foreign office said Wednesday that since Monday, around 1,600 people had been evacuated, including Germans, Afghans and nationals of international partners.

However, the withdrawal of American and allied troops from Afghanistan and the ensuing takeover by the Taliban have sparked fears of a new wave of asylum seekers at Europe’s shores. The arrival of over 1.2 million refugees in 2015, mostly fleeing war in Syria, proved a tough and divisive subject for Europe’s leaders. This was particularly true in Germany, where nearly half a million refugees applied for asylum, according to the U.N.’s refugee agency.


However, Holger Schmieding, chief euro zone economist at Berenberg Bank, said this time, the tone is different.


“There is not much positioning except playing the blame game. Even a co-leader of the AfD, Meuthen, admitted that Germany has a moral duty to take in those who worked for the German forces in Afghanistan,” Schmieding added, referring the Joerg Meuthen, co-leader of the far-right Alternative for Germany.


Germany’s tone could change ahead of the Germany’s federal election on Sept. 26, according to the experts.

Once former Afghan personnel have been received in Germany, “the AfD will likely switch to accusing the political center of risking yet another uncoordinated migration wave, as back in 2015,” Nickel said.


The latest polls ahead of the election give the AfD 11% of the vote, compared with 12.6% at the 2017 federal election. {snip}