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"Act quickly and vigorously"

Germany's former foreign minister Joschka Fischer on the refugee disaster

Apr. 22, 2015

Also available in Deutsch

The former German foreign minister Joschka Fischer sees Europe in view of the recent refugee disaster in the Mediterranean morally obligated. He calls for more commitment and support for those who are affected. In Berlin, he said: "The minimum, namely that people don't drown like rats in the ocean, is what Europe should at least provide". Instead of pointing fingers and fighting over whom is responsible, Europe's member states must act now quickly and vigorously. Otherwise, more victims are at risk.

According to Fischer the events of the last days and weeks are an expression of a multilayered illusion. Terror, wars and humanitarian catastrophes in the Middle East and northern Africa, and thus close to European borders, constitute a severe crisis of security that Europe is not sufficiently prepared for. The same goes for the altercation with Russia and the dispute with Greece.

Fischer hopes that these latest crises, may bring those politically responsible into action and that they may strengthen the collective European institutions in order to advance in Europe’s integration progress. That requires that the national states are willing to cede some of their sovereignty. Right now, Europe is stuck between a rock and a hard place, because it does not fully draw the conclusions of its unification process. “The hour has come to speak about Europe and to not leave the field to populists.” Such a historic project cannot be successfully accomplished “through the back door” and not without the readiness to fight for it. Europe needs more bravery and visionary powers. “To whom that is afraid of that, is in the wrong place.”

After his speech, titled “Europe and its life lies”, Fischer, who accepted an invitation of the Norbert Lammert and the Konrad Adenauer Foundation, discussed his views with Peter Altmaier, chief of the Office of the Federal Chancellor, Elmar Brok, chairman of the European Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee, and retired general Wolfgang Schneiderhan, former Inspector General of the German Federal Armed Forces.

In his closing note, President of the German Bundestag Prof. Norbert Lammert pointed out, that, when discussing further steps of European integration, it should not be forgotten that the EU is not a state and according to its 28 member states shall not become one. Lammert expressed sympathy for Fischers recommendations whilst also recalling the difficult ratification process of the Treaty of Lisbon. Europe’s dilemma being, that it comes by more and more responsibilities whilst lacking in statehood. “We must not swerve from this debate”, Lammert said – even if the finality of the European Project would remain unanswered.

About this Serial

The Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung, its educational institutions, centres and foreign offices, offer several thousand events on various subjects each year. We provide up to date and exclusive reports on selected conferences, events and symposia at www.kas.de. In addition to a summary of the contents, you can also find additional material such as pictures, speeches, videos or audio clips.

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