German FM urges ‘more control’ over European borders

© Fabrizio Bensch
The German Foreign Minister has defended his country’s open-door policy for migrants, saying that refugees must not be treated like suspected terrorists. At the same time, he stressed that the entirety of Europe urgently needs to regain control over its borders.

This is despite the current challenges posed by Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL).

“The threat of IS does not end at the borders of Germany. Therefore, closing doors, pulling down shutters, turning off lights and hoping that hits the neighbors cannot mean the answer,” Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier (SPD) said in an interview with newspapers in the Funke Medien Group.

At the same Steinmeier called for a more effective border management system, claiming that it is important to have “more control over who is entering and leaving Europe.”

He called on European nations to support the EU Commission’s proposal to expand the European Border Protection agency (Frontex) and to support a €3 billion ($3.29bn) with Turkey to limit the influx of refugees.

The FM’s comments came as German police are searching for at least 12 people who entered the EU using forged Syrian passports. According to reports, the passports were printed on legitimate blanks stolen by forgers, most likely in the IS-controlled city of Raqqa.

The suspects are believed to be French nationals who re-entered Europe via Greece using forged Syrian passports, alongside fighters who carried out the Paris terror attacks. Last week, two French citizens posing as refugees were arrested in Austria in connection to the November 13 attacks. The suspects were allegedly using fake Syrian passports.

But while pushing for tighter border controls, Steinmeier warned against “throwing refugees with suspected terrorists in the same pot.” Most of the radicals come from Europe itself, he said, referring to recent attacks, especially the Friday 13 attacks in Paris which killed 130 people.

Steinmeier condemned the “drastic increase in right-wing violence in Germany” and elsewhere, accusing right-wing parties of encouraging hate crimes against asylum seekers in an attempt to win votes.