What happens when a Syrian and an Eritrean discuss about war, the German “Welcome Culture” and their own perspectives for the future? A dialogue emerges that is set between open distrust and candid optimism. The two personalities approach each other and move apart again, while they debate European politics, always considering their own experiences.
I: Today, we want to talk about the German policy on refugees, the asylum laws and everything connected to it.
A: I think that in the current situation in Germany it is urgent to change the law compared to the population. This country expects around one million refugees this year and the total population is around 80 million. So comparing the capacities and also the facilities, it’s not possible to help all of them. The government has the willingness to help the people. The chancellor said in August that she opens the gate for asylum seekers. This is the willingness, but in action, it cannot work.
M: And I answer you: if you will open the gates for the refugees and you don’t have money and you don’t have a place for them, why do you invite them? Why do you say: ‘welcome refugees’? I’m from Syria and after what Angela Merkel said, around 300 000 or 400 000 Syrian people or more came to Germany.
A: You are right, but when she opened the gate, many were waiting at the border to Hungary and instead of letting them wait more, she made an urgent decision. So she was trying to help, because they were cracking. The final destination for them is Germany, so she knows that.
M: That’s true, but it was not well planned of her.
A: Yes, but ‘welcome’ doesn’t mean to fulfil all the requirements now. ‘welcome’ means in the next five or six month you will get what you expect. But at the initial, because there are so many people, you should have to process, you should have to register, you should have to install registration centres. Another example: Did you see the video of a Hungarian journalist trying to tackle a Syrian man with his son? Instead of this, come to Germany and stay at the initial centre and you will pass the asylum process. Hungary doesn’t welcome you.
M: But what is my opinion: It’s better not to tell people, ‘you are welcome here’, but to help them to have a good place in their country by trying to stop the war in the country. Whereas, if you will look for the political media in our country, you will find around 10 to 12 countries fighting in Syria, not just Syrians and the Syrian government – no. It would be better, if all these countries stopped this and if Germany tried to stop this. And if they cannot, maybe they can find a good place to send money for those people, who really have no money. They live in camps at the border of Turkey or Jordan or Lebanon. They cannot come to this country, because they don’t have a passport and they don’t have money. One refugee here in Germany needs around 2000 Euros per month. In this camp, you just need 200 Euros a month.
I: So you mean, Germany should rather invest in the camps at the border to Syria instead of inviting people here.
M: Yes, that’s what I think.
A: But it’s not only the responsibility of Germany, it’s the responsibility of all European countries. Germany has not the single responsibility of all the refugees. For example, the UK was sleeping until now and was not taking action. We expect more from them, because their economy is boosting and they are powerful. All European countries want to reject you. If you enter, they don’t have a choice, you will get asylum. But except Germany, no European country is giving a welcome to your people. Germany opened the green light for Syrian people, even if they have fingerprints in other European countries.
M: Wait, I was translating for somebody in the interview and they were asking: ‘Tell me, where you have fingerprints’. And if you will tell him, ‘the Hungarians have my fingerprints’, then he will tell you: ‘Go to Hungary’.
A: This is the Dublin regulation.
As a part of the asylum process, it will be examined, if the asylum applicant is to be transferred to another European state. The so-called Dublin-III-Regulation is supposed to prevent that refugees apply for asylum in several European countries. Germany is thus not responsible for the asylum process, if the asylum applicant already applied in a different state of the EU, in Switzerland or Norway, also if he or she was registered in one of these states or has a visa. If the responsibility lies with another state, Germany can send a request for takeover. If the state agrees or does not react, it is responsible for the person. The applicant gets a Dublin decision. The asylum application will be rejected.
M: Another point is that we had a lot of problems before. We had the Roma problem, the Kurdish problem, the Armenian problem… three problems were there before Iraq and before Syria. But until now, they didn’t give the green light for them. Why? If only Syrians are invited here, then it is a political plan for Syrians. It’s not a normal “Herzlich Willkommen” from the heart.
A: But I am not talking about the political or the psychological game behind this. I am talking about the innocent and poor people. How we will be helping and how we will be saving their life. Maybe it is psychological or political. I don’t know. But if they are victims of the war, it is the responsibility of the currently peaceful countries to safe them. This is the refugee convention of 1951.
M: I want to ask you: Have you seen what happened in France? And what the media said? They said they found three passports. You could see three passports on photos – a Syrian passport, an Egyptian passport and one from Morocco. But come on! If you bomb yourself – and I saw this – a friend of mine was bombed in his car. From this bomb, we were only able to take half a kilo of him off the street. And now, you tell me, the passport will not be destroyed? There would be nothing. I’m not stupid. The media didn’t talk about Egypt, didn’t talk about Morocco, only Syria, only IS. And ‘the refugee is dangerous’. My message is that when someone bombs himself, the passport will not stay alive. So maybe it’s the passport of someone else, a refugee who wants to cross the border to England. But the media didn’t say that it might be somebody else’s passport.
A: I support the point that Europe should also control their borders. Many are claiming to be refugees…
M: Are you afraid?
A: I am not afraid. I am talking about the refugee welcome-ness of Germany.
M: Yes, it’s a nice idea. But I mean, it would be nicer, if it happened in a different way. Same money, same everything, but you can do other things. Like in Africa: all Africans want to come here. But if you make a good situation for Africans, they will stay in Africa.
A: The situation in Africa is not because of money. Africa is a very rich continent, it is full of natural resources, but the problems in Africa are the governmental structures. Many people say that the current governmental structures in Africa are a provenance from the West, but this is not correct. The African leaders are very selfish, to tell you frankly. For example, if you take Nigeria, it is the 7th biggest petrol supplier in the world. It generates a lot of income. But still many people live in poverty, because of the administrative moves of the government. That’s the problem in Africa. But on the other hand, Europe is trying to help Africa by investing millions and millions of Euros, but still the African countries cannot be stabilized. Africa is another narrative.
M: And before, all the people were going to America. Now, they start with Germany. And then they will move to another country. It’s like with animals.
A: Always, migration has its own dynamics. People, like animals have the ability to migrate. Migration is dynamic. People not only migrate for political reasons. There are many reasons. Migration will also always continue.
I: Do you think there is a difference between the government in Germany and the people in Germany? I mean, who is welcoming you?
M: I guess for sure, the people. They pushed the government to do it. Actually, the government doesn’t like it. But this is a democratic country.
A: Some people from the Eastern parts of Germany are Anti-Migrants. They are always demonstrating against refugees. But the government is trying to stop them. So it’s not only coming from the people. The government also has its own role to help refugees.
M: I would be happy, if this was true. When I was in Egypt before as-Sisi, the new president, there was another Islam brother and he said ‘welcome’ to Syrian refugees. He said, ‘I don’t care about any rule’. Then, after there was a new president, what happened? He pushed all the Syrian people out from Egypt. It will be the same in Europe.
A: But if your country is stable, you can go back to your country – what’s the problem?
M: That’s a big problem, because if you start your life here, you cannot go back to your country, where it’s not as safe as in Germany. The police, the streets, the houses – you are in another world. I mean, if you go back, you will have a problem in your country. Where will you get money from? Where is your home? You have to restart again. But you cannot restart. And do you think the situation is really safe, when they start sending people back? The media says, ‘it’s a safe place – you have a new government, you have a police, you have an army’. I am not even talking about the ‘S-Bahn’ or the buses. Here, in half an hour, I can be with you. But in your country, you could wait two or three hours just for one bus coming.
A: You are right, but I’m telling you: The convention of 1951 says that a refugee when he or she reached a country that is safe for him or her, he or she can stay until his or her country becomes stable. That’s the rule, that’s the convention. Not the whole life. But you have the ability to apply for citizenship, for permanent residency, something like that. They cannot afford you for your entire life. Also, maybe another country is in trouble in the future and your country becomes stable, then you should also have a space for them.
M: That’s true, but it makes the people crazy.
A: Besides, it is unlikely to happen, because it depends on the population dynamics of the country. For example, the German population is going to skrink. Don’t worry about your future in Germany, because the population in Germany is going to be shrunken. The Germans have a plan. The plan for you to work, to integrate – for your future. They are trying to accept people relating to their population rate. Why doesn’t the UK accept more refugees? Because they expect their population to be rising in the next five years. So, don’t worry about your future. Maybe if you want, you are going back, but against your will, it is unlikely to happen. People from the Balkan war from 1990ies are still in Germany.
M: If you will study here and you have a good work, you will have 2000 Euros per month, then you don’t need to go back, because you don’t need money from the government. But if you take money from the ‘Jobcenter’ or from the government, you will have to back now.
A: Yes, but you should be independent. That’s life.
M: If you fall in love with a German woman, you are allowed to stay here. That’s a shit rule. But if you are more than 64 years or you don’t work or your work is not enough, you have to go back. If I study here, maybe I will not be sent back, but my family will be sent back. It’s a problem for my brother, he is three years old and he starts to forget Arabic already and then he goes back and he cannot study or work. He cannot start an Arabic life in Syria. And that’s why I say: Give money to the people where they live in the same culture.
A: But people are fleeing of war. If the war cannot be stopped, what will you do? You will bring them to a safe place.
The persons in the conversation want to stay anonymous.
Interview: Anna // Photo: Inga