ANDREAS WUST: It is an honor for me to be here today. I'm going to talk about the refugee crisis we have been facing in Europe. And I'm doing so not as a diplomat or as a civil servant, but as a social scientist still affiliated with the Mannheim Center for European Social Research. From a German perspective and also from a European perspective, 2015 can be labeled the "year of refugees." A record number of about 1 million refugees have been admitted to Germany, and Germany and its chancellor became a symbol of freedom and solidarity in the Western world as the title of the Time magazine just recently showed. And the questions that arise from the whole issue and Merkel's role certainly has just been an expression of values, the result of strategic considerations, or just an accident. I will come back to these questions later in the talk.
The null hypothesis is this is an experiment that is happening across Europe and especially in Germany. And I have been part of this experiment as a social scientist, as Professor Miyazaki already said. And I joined the Ministry for Integration at the state of Baden-Wurttemberg back 2011 to do monitoring and research there. But suddenly, I was responsible for refugee admission, from the developments that you are certainly aware of.
When we're talking about Germany and Baden-Wurttemberg, you might be curious what Baden-Wurttemberg is. It is the state in the bottom left on this map of states in Germany. And what you also see here, in addition to the name, is the quota of refugee distribution within Germany. And that's 13% of refugees that are distributed to Baden-Wurttemberg. And this quota is set up by 2/3 of the population strength of a state and 1/3 of its economic strength. And as you can see, Baden-Wurttemberg comes third after North Rhine-Westphalia over here, and Bayern, Bavaria, at the bottom right.
The refugee story-- and I was told that you have already heard in various lectures about this story-- is-- and the numbers for 2015 by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees is not out yet. But in 2014 60 million refugees worldwide were counted or estimated. And there was, if you look at the reports, a shift in the countries of origin of the global refugees from Asia to the Middle East, especially to Syria, and also to African countries. And this shift means that the migration pressure on Europe has significantly risen recently.
Within the EU, we have, effective since 1995, free movement also of people within most countries of the then European Community, which are now the European Union. And we have asylum law on the European level, the so-called Dublin Convention that took effect in 1997 that allows for only one asylum application within the EU and the country of first entry. And that means, thinking about people coming from the Middle East and from Africa, that there is a specific burden for those frontline countries with borders to non-EU countries, especially Spain, Italy-- Malta was heavily affected in 2013 and '14-- and also Hungary on the very eastern border of the European Union.
With a rise in numbers already but during the last years, especially since 2014, the system was not functioning very well. Even though asylum seekers, refugees could be identified as having entered the European Union in a different country, these countries did not take back the refugees to the degree that they actually showed up in the country. So the system by 2015, the latest with the developments that I will show in more detail, crashed in 2015. So the system did not work. You might have heard the sentence "Dublin is dead" or "the Dublin Convention does not work anymore."
There are different routes to Europe. And I already said that the countries at the southern, southeastern, and eastern border of the European Union are disproportionately affected by refugees. And we have seen most refugees coming over the central Mediterranean route from Africa to Italy, Lampedusa, an island that was the destination of many, you might have already heard of. And in 2014, already continuing in 2015, there were many deaths on the Mediterranean Sea, many more deaths than on this route before.
So another route or another routes to Europe and to central Europe developed. The eastern Mediterranean route became the main gateway to Europe in spring 2015. And with Macedonia allowing refugees to transit and Serbia are no longer controlling people leaving the country, there was a shift to the western Balkan route-- so not only the eastern Mediterranean route entering Greece, but also to move on to Central Europe from Greece over Macedonia, Serbia, to Hungary.
All in all, already 1.3 million refugees asked for asylum in the European Union. And there is a big backlog there. So the 1.3 million is certainly not the number of refugees that have entered the European Union, but we only have numbers from Frontex at the borders. And we have some numbers from the different countries which are not completely comparable.
Once again, what I said, here is the number of asylum applications over the last years. And we had this significant rise in the fall of 2015. You see the central Mediterranean route here, the eastern Mediterranean route, and then the route into Central Europe. And what you also see with the bars here is the number of asylum applications in the various countries. And you can easily detect that Germany took most of those, or Germany was the country where most of these asylum applications are filed. And Hungary with a lot of applications also in comparison to their population. There was also a high share in Austria of asylum applications and in Sweden.
What you also see on this graph is the composition, the top countries of origin. You see that Syria already in the fall of 2015 was the main country of origin, Afghanistan third, Iraq, and many more countries, but also a high share of people coming from the Balkan countries, like Kosovo, that especially asked for asylum in Germany. The crisis, once again, to show how this developed, refugees reaching Spain, Italy, and Greece, the number rose from January 2015 just about 7,000 people, almost steadily until October with over 200,000 people coming to these countries.
Increasingly the treatment of refugees along this Western Balkan route got problematic, specifically in Hungary. Hungary very often and repeatedly declared that they are not really interested in having refugees, and they did not provide enough shelter. So people were sleeping on the streets. And the situation was really problematic.
On August 22nd, Hungary even considered making a use of the military to fight the refugee crisis. And just a few weeks later in mid-September, Hungary closed its border to Serbia and erected fences or completed fences and introduced quite restrictive refugee laws. In between the end of August and the middle of September, Germany and Austria, seeing what's going on in their neighboring country, decided to open their borders for the refugees coming or staying in Hungary or got stuck in Hungary. And with this opening up of the borders-- and I will tell you a little bit more about that in a second-- Germany was especially interested in finding a European solution to this refugee crisis. And I will later on talk about how far we get with this solution.
If you look at selected months at asylum applications that I've already mentioned, you see this increase, especially in the fall of 2015, at the peak, and then it goes down again towards the end of 2015. And you see the big countries, Germany, an increase and with a significant backlog, so you don't see because the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees was not able to take in all the applications. This is happening now-- so underestimated but continuous rise.
You see that Hungary, this is this line here, had a peak in the fall, and then it went down practically to zero applications because all of refugees have left Hungary for Austria, Germany, and some went on to Sweden and other countries. And Austria also quite strong in the fall, with some decrease later on. But what you don't see here is, for instance, Greece. So you see Italy, a quite low number of asylum applications. And you don't see Greece. And this is an indicator for why the asylum-- the Dublin Convention, did not work. Because refugees arrived in Greece but did not ask for asylum there, but went on to other European countries to ask for asylum. And they were also not sent back to Greece from these countries.
From a German view, leaving the European level for a while, we see a steady increase of asylum applicants from just 19,000 in the whole year of 2007 too already 110,000 in 2013. And this 110,000 is about the number of asylum applicants we had in Baden-Wurttemberg alone in 2015, so that you get an idea on how this development was.
We had significant problems, and that was actually the time when I already started getting involved in building up new refugee centers and admissions centers. We had problems providing enough shelter. In 2014, registration, which the different states have to do, were not and could not be made in time. Also, the medical checks for admission and the identity fingerprint checks, there were already quite some backlogs in 2014. And we had significant problems in the asylum procedures because there was not enough staff in the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees.
So having had a problem, we had to face the crisis. So we switched from maybe handling a challenge in 2014, to modes of crisis and, I would say, to emergency in the fall of 2015. So for an understanding what happened in Germany in August and September, I think it is relevant to start a little bit earlier, during a so-called "citizen dialogue" show.
Chancellor Merkel met a Lebanese girl named Reem, who already waited for the decision on her asylum case and the case of her family for four years. And what she did in this confrontation with Merkel, she more or less asked for a normal life. She asked for having the chance to study, having a secure status, and she did that in a perfect German there. So that showed that she's already integrated.
But due to the fact that the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees did not get along with these asylum applications, there was still insecurity whether she would be able to stay. And Merkel answered in a pretty bureaucratic way and said, well, we tried to make the asylum procedures faster. Then she asked, so where do you come from? From Lebanon. So do you originally come from Syria maybe? And she said, no, just from Lebanon. And the chancellor said, well, there is no war in Lebanon. So there are other people from other countries that have a much better case in being granted asylum than you are.
So the girl started to cry. And this is what you see here. And Merkel went to her and tried to calm her down. But Merkel was heavily criticized for this reaction. And this just happened in July, on July 15th, just 1 and 1/2 months before things changed.
So this tweet of the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees of August 25 was the trigger for refugees trying to reach Germany. So what is in this tweet? I've written it up here. That the Dublin procedure, so sending back asylum applicants to the country of first entry in the European Union, was suspended. And this was an internal decision in German government, and it seems like the president of the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees decided to tweet this information. And, well, he had to leave office on September 17th.
Manfred Schmidt, a very nice person and a very good Integration Manager also, and I'm showing you that because this picture was taken in Ellwangen. Ellwangen, you see the dining hall of the refugee admission center in Ellwangen. That was the center we have built up in April, 2015 OR opened in April, 2015. And this to switch to Baden-Wurttemberg, so you see what happened here.
So when we opened this refugee admission center in April-- and this was the third center in the state. We only had one until the fall of 2014. We got another one in Mauerstetten. And then with opening this one in Ellwangen, we thought, we'll just do fine. We will now have enough capacity in dealing with this rising number of refugees.
But what you can easily see here that the situation really got problematic with a rise to 40,000 people being admitted in November alone in the Baden-Wurttemberg. So in the end, we had 29 camps for first admission of refugees, and that was only possible with the help of the Ministry for Internal Affairs. So we just couldn't do that alone. And what you also see here is that after a couple of decisions that were made later on, in combination with winter, which is always leading towards a lower number of refugees coming to Europe because of the weather conditions, so you see what happened later in 2016.
We are now, in April, below the number we had in 2015. And this was a development that we did not expect earlier this year. Once again, the numbers added up for 2015 in the time series, you see over 100,000, 101,000 asylum seekers arriving in Baden-Wurttemberg in 2015. And even if you combine those years where we had most refugees before people coming from Kosovo in '92 and '93, the first big asylum crisis that we had in Germany, it was more than the combined number of these two years, so really a big challenge.
But coming back to this, what I call, the case of emergency here, showing you a picture of a press conference that Angela Merkel held on August 31st, so just six weeks after this citizen dialogue happened with the Lebanese girl. In this press conference, having in mind and being impressed by the situation in Hungary, the chancellor gets quite emotional and calls for joint action in the country to face the challenge of the projected 800,000 refugees that should come in 2015. She speaks out against anti-refugee protests that's already happening, especially in the east of Germany, but also increasingly in the west.
She calls for European solidarity in the crisis. And all in all, the whole event, what she said, how she said it was a surprise to the public and to political observers. And this press conference can be seen as the communication of the main elements of the policy that follows from late August, early September on. And horrible pictures, like this of the Syrian toddler, Aylan Kurdi, underlined the necessity to take action. It's just a terrible picture that if you see it happening just two days after Merkel more or less said we have to do something and we will be able to make that, this is, I think, an important picture.
The reactions towards Merkel's decision was strong support by civil society, also significant support of all the volunteers. Without them, all the admission was not possible. Thinking back, maybe you have seen the pictures. On one day alone, 12,000 refugees arrived. I think it was September 12th in Munich-- so more than arrived earlier in a whole year.
So the public was split from the beginning, and it got a little bit more skeptical later on. 2/3 supported Merkel's decision to suspend the Dublin Procedure and to let those refugees in that were stranded in Hungary. But 85% expected more refugees to come just a few days after the press conference. Over 1/3 said they are freight of refugees. And even though, all in all, 57% said Germany can handle the refugee influx, only 43% of the East Germans did so.
There's a big difference in support, in attitudes, between the West and the East because the East has not experienced a guest worker and the multiethnic, multicultural society to that degree that the West experienced. Merkel was heavily supported by the coalition partner, by the Social Democrats, and also by the opposition parties, the Greens, and the left, but strongly criticized by people from her own party, the Christian Democratic Union, and a sister party of the Christian Democratic Union, the Bavarian CSU, the Christian Social Union. And what we also saw from now on is support-- rising support-- for the Alternative, Alternative fuer Deutschland, Alternative for Germany, a right-wing party that started as a Euro-critical party. But with the change in the chairperson, with Frauke Petry becoming chairwoman in the summer of 2015, they moved towards broader national, nationalistic in some sense, party.
So the satisfaction with Merkel, which was very high before, dropped significantly. You see September was the first drop, and then further down, to just 49% in November, where we had this peak of refugees coming in. And on the other hand, her main contender of the CSU, Horst Seehofer, people were more and more satisfied that he was proposing to not let as many refugees in, to maybe close the borders, and to end this policy. And if you look at the opinion polls during that time, starting in early 2015, we see an almost continuing decline for the CDU and CSU, for the Christian Democrats. And on the other hand, you see IFD. That's this party, starting with just 2% in late August of 2015, to 13%, they had in the early 2016. And you also see that the Green Party gained.
So we see a polarization of politics, to some degree, I would say, from the Green Alternative Libertarian, the so-called GAL pole in this dimension to the traditional authoritarian nationalist pole on the other end, over the issue of refugees. And we had state elections in March of this year. And you see that in all these states, the Alternative fuer Deutschland, the right-wing party, was able to enter parliaments. That were not represented in Parliament before. And in Sachsen-Anhalt, that's a state in the East, they even came out second, with 24% of the vote. And in all states, the governing parties had to change something to continue to govern.
In Baden-Wurttemberg, there were enough votes to continue the coalition of the Green Party and the SPD, so the big Christian Democrats had to replace the Social Democrats to form the coalition. And in Rheinland-Pfalz and in Sachsen-Anhalt, a third party had to join the governing coalition to continue work. So there's significant blackmail potential of the Alternative fuer Deutschland. And who is voting for these parties?
If you look at the support for the AFD in Sachsen-Anhalt, you see that it is especially people who are disappointed from the politics of the established parties. And only about a 1/3 voted for the AFD because of their program. This number is lower in the Western states. So this is more of a protest vote.
So a partial explanation for the success of the AFD is the disappointment with the parties, especially in the refugee crisis. Also not shown, they are anti-system vote that we are experiencing all over Europe. Also in the United States there are some tendencies to vote against the system. This certainly plays a role as well.
But we also see that the conception of society is quite different. So being asking this-- and this quite a bad question here. But still, do you want a traditional society or an open society? People voted for the AFD predominantly said they want a traditional society they are used to from the old Federal Republic of Germany of the West.
So "Chancellor of the Free World," yeah-- so with the opening of the border, Merkel then, at least for a few days, until the criticism set in again, toured through the country. And there were quite a few refugees that took selfies with her and were just happy to have made it to Germany. And maybe you have also seen interviews and pictures of people holding up signs saying, "thank you, Angela Merkel." And so what a contrast to just two months ago when she was saying to the Lebanese girl that she might have to go back to Lebanon.
However, the public is still irritated. As you can see, the last numbers when Horst Seehofer, the CSU person, almost caught up in satisfaction rates to Merkel. Then Merkel got support still later on in the months to come and has now stabilized around 50%, 60% satisfaction, but still much lower than the numbers that we have seen before. And also, the Social Democrats that are in government with Merkel, the Chairman Gabriel also loses when it comes to satisfaction. So the picture for the government is not too good when it comes to the refugee crisis.
In the beginning, I asked the questions, what were the factors or what are the factors behind Merkel's policy? I think there are some more expressive elements in why she made that decision in her press conference in late August. She already said that asylum law and human rights are very important for Germany and for Europe. But potentially, also Christianity, being the chair person of the Christian Democratic Party and solidarity, being in a coalition with the Social Democrats, might have played a role here.
What could also be a factor is that the CDU shifted in their policy from denying Germany being an immigration country to becoming more of an integration country, opening up opportunities for foreign workers to come in again. So this might also have played a role. And Merkel was also a figure within the CDU, who had made this shift possible.
Then it could also be that her own experience in East Germany played a role. Because the idea of building up fences and of not letting people in is certainly a very critical issue for all the people that have ever been kind of locked up in the Eastern Bloc. But there might have been also some strategic reasons to achieve a burden-sharing across Europe. This is also something that she said in the press conference, that we have to find a European solution. And also maybe taking responsibility to reunify Europe, and you might remember that Germany and also Merkel has been heavily criticized for the politics of austerity towards Southern European countries. And this probably played a role as well-- to get out of this problematic face for the European Union.
What I would also would add to these two more expressive and strategic dimensions is that what I call passive policy. Angela Merkel is more a person or used to be a person that more reacted than that she acted in policy. And I think that there was no real alternative to just doing the job. So this might be an element as well.
So I think all in all, you can say that it was a strategic decision to achieve European burden-sharing, but that happened based on values and own experience. But this is just my interpretation of that, and then there was no good alternative to the decision. And Angela Merkel also uses quite often is the word [GERMAN], or "no alternative." We just have to do that. And in this case, she might be right. And the crisis was also an opportunity to show the world that especially Germany can manage things.
Now we have a kind of a label that Germany, in engineering and in solving problems, Germany is quite good. So this was a chance to show that. And it was a rare moment. And Angela Merkel is in power since 2005. So being in power sometimes changes the behavior of people. But from now on, looking back at her chancellorship, it was a rare moment of taking action, acting like a political leader. And that involved a significant risk because the decision to let refugees in, if it failed or if there was failure on that decision, this would have been exclusively blamed on her. And what I mentioned before when it comes to politics of austerity, it was certainly a chance to change Germany's image as Europe's bookkeeper.
You have a question?
AUDIENCE: What do you mean by if it was available? You were saying that there were the volunteers, but now the amount coming in were-- [INAUDIBLE]
ANDREAS WUST: Yeah, maybe I come back to that in the discussion. But there were certainly a couple of potential risks there. You know what happened in Paris and in later on across Europe that we had terrorist attacks? And there was always the link trying to be established between refugees coming in and people may be part of these terrorist activities. This would have been a significant problem. And on the other hand, maybe more simple, letting refugees in is a good thing. But at a certain point, it was quite obvious that this cannot go on.
I've shown you that the numbers went down again, which are a result, or a partial result, of changed policies within Europe and in the different European countries. But if this had not happened, I think Merkel would have been in big problems here. But this leads me to where do we stand in May 2016. There's still this proportion of pressure on the southern and southeastern EU border states. And because the refugees are no longer able to move on, and especially in Greece, there are very few jobs.
I talked to briefly about the economic crisis there. The established hotspots in Greece, where the refugees should stay and then the deal with Turkey, bringing illegal immigrants that are in Greece back to Turkey, where they are supposed to, or most of them originally come from. And therefore taking in one refugee that is qualified, especially of Syrian origin, to get refugee status in a European country bears significant risks. Because the European standards might not be met here, the Greek situation is critical.
There's not that much advice on asylum seekers there. And in Turkey the situation is also not really clear. There are non-government organizations, for instance, that are saying that Turkish officials are sending or pushing people, for instance, coming from Afghanistan out of the country. So that certainly bears some risk. And Europe also depends very much on Turkey now.
So if they decide on no longer cooperating in this deal, this might change and might lead back to the problems that we had before. And we also see a re-nationalization because some of the burden-sharing that has been agreed on already in September, that we have 160,000 refugees being divided by quotas, across Europe doesn't work, especially some of the Eastern European countries did not agree on cooperating. And the internal border controls that we see being set up right now, contrary to the idea of the free movement of people established in the Schengen agreement, might stay longer. And most important, I think, the causes for immigration of Syria and of other countries are not much different now than they used to be.
For Germany, there are a couple of challenges. I've already mentioned that there's a significant backlog in the asylum applications. And if 2015 has had something good, then it certainly was that the whole process of refugee management got much more professional. And there is more data exchange.
We even have a whole new unit where we do everything from the registration, the check of the fingerprints, the printing of a document in a row, also to redistribution across Germany. Now we only have a very few refugees, but the system is now repaired. The commitment for a new system of long-term refugee admission I think could be stronger, since we still see in the German policy that a tendency towards what happened already in '92 an in '93, that other countries at the other end, at the borders, should take care of the refugees first.
What we also saw is that more countries were declared as being safe. This pertains to the to countries from the Balkans, but it's supposed to be extended now to more countries, especially from North African countries. And we now separate in German legislation between different groups of asylum seekers. So those coming from countries where in the past 50% more were granted asylum and those coming from the other countries. And those who come from the countries with a so-called perspective get easier and earlier access to integration measures. And the final point is that the whole question of immigrant integration pertaining to refugees is a challenge, and it will be more of a challenge when you think about the logics of migration, family reunification that will certainly take place-- and chain migration of people already there being an incentive for more migrants to come of this specific country.
So let us finish with the situation or the composition of those people that are coming and how they might be different from the immigrants that we used to have in Germany. We see in Baden-Wurttemberg we have a quite good statistics. Who is coming? These blue bars are representing the males, and the others, the female refugees. You see that about 2/3 are male of the refugees, that they are significantly younger, so hardly anyone older than 65.
On average, compared with the population of Baden-Wurttemberg, they are 20 years younger. And what you also see is that a significant proportion being below the age of 18. So this involves people, small children, school children, and young adults, in specific. So how do they differ? The differ in the fact that most of them are traumatized in a certain way that was very different from the guest workers that we had before, or even the large proportion of ethnic re-settlers we had in Germany coming from Russia were not traumatized.
What is also different is that no family member does have a job. Even if you think about the guest workers, there was at least one person who was hired and had work. So the refugees have to be brought in to work to a much higher degree. What's also different is that they came in a very short period of time.
Thinking back at other migration streams that developed over many years or even decades, there were networks and there were middlemen helping those people getting integrated economically and socially. This is not the case. Another issue is that the German population is not familiar with the groups that came now. So hardly any experience with Syrians or people coming from Afghanistan or the countries of the Middle East.
Then we have the issue of the Muslims-- a high proportion of Muslim refugees, which is a challenge or can be a challenge for integration. In the so-called integration barometer of 2016, which was just published last week, over half of the German population thinks that the Islam does not belong to Germany, and 59% of the natives think that many Muslims are excluded. So this is a sign for heavy discrimination in the country. And even those who are already there, the Turkish-born population, Turkish-origin population, 2/3 think that Muslims are excluded by German society.
So different advice in papers by commissions has been given. This is also something that came out last week by an expert commission of the Bosch Foundation. And what you see is that primarily the advice goes to structural integration measures, comes to language courses, but also some new elements are in that-- so providing more psychological assistance to especially the traumatized refugees, that you also should open up for young adults the vocational training opportunities, which are normally limited until the age of 18, to make them possible also later on. And as a social scientist, it's always nice to see that data and systematic assessments of the qualifications should be much better. We are starting with doing that. So the federal agency is in the refugee camps and assessing the qualifications for the job markets.
But some migration scholars think that we need an immigration law. This is something that I also have emphasized very often. And in international comparisons, the opportunities to come to Germany are not that bad, especially on an economic basis. But they are kind of spread into all kinds of laws and regulations. So we should have one law that is also much better to be communicated and for marketing and to show people who are interested in coming to Germany, what they have to do to make this happen. And finally, integration is probably not a one-way street.
So we also have to take the population, the native population, on board. And integration efforts should not only be laid on the immigrants or the refugees, but also on the population that is already living in Germany. So to sum up, s is quite obvious that there are old and new challenges in this new age of migration. I hope that the refugee crisis 2015 will help, that the EU and many other countries in the world take responsibility in helping refugees on the one hand, and to reduce the pressures to individuals for leaving their home countries. Thank you very much for your attention.
ANDREAS WUST: Yeah, of course, we have undocumented refugees because the chances to be granted asylum are bigger if you come from a certain country, like Syria, like Afghanistan, like Iraq. And I already said that also the access to certain benefits is easier if you come from one of these countries with a perspective. So if you have thrown your papers away, which is the case for the majority of refugees, then there's a higher likelihood, or the likelihood is higher that you might get through.
But very often, because of the asylum procedure, it's not only the application, but very often there's an interview also taking place, it gets obvious that this person is not from the country he claims to or she claims to come from. And then what you have to do once you have found out who the person that is, you have to try to bring this person back to their country of origin. And this is another problem that Germany has been trying to solve, especially with the North African countries, that they take back their citizens when they are detected to be illegally in Germany, but a big problem.
AUDIENCE: So we hear about the huge numbers of people coming to Europe. And I know it's different from one to country to the next, but in your assessment, what is the percentage of people who will actually get permanent residency permit? Let me rephrase it a little bit.
My sense is that European countries are looking to maybe temporarily taking people, with the hope of sending them back home as soon as back home is stabilized. So that the hope is to actually take in as few permanent people as possible. Do you have any sense of all what the percentages of refugees that ultimately will be able to stay in Europe?
ANDREAS WUST: The maximum time you are able to stay as a recognized refugee in Germany is in the beginning three years. So normally within this period of three years, and thinking about the high numbers that came in 2015, so it's very difficult to make a prognosis how many you will be able to stay on after three years. Or if they're still civil war in Syria in 2019, probably most of these people are allowed to stay. And there's also the likelihood once they have found employment, once their children are schooled, with different legislation then we had it earlier, then I think the proportion can be quite high of refugees being able to stay longer than just three years in Germany.
But because a high portion also is young men and thinking of young men without families or with maybe just spouses, it might be a better idea to return to the country at a certain time. So we just have to wait and see what's going to happen. But there was some discussion on that we might have seven times as many refugees because all the family members might come along. This is certainly exaggerated. But I think there will be more than when it comes to family re-unification, family unification, in the process of asylum seekers being granted.
AUDIENCE: Early in you talk, you contrasted the reaction of the German civil society in a positive or versus the more ambivalence of the German public. And later you talked about the issue of what were Angela Merkel's motivations for being so welcoming. German friends of mine kept emphasizing that actually there was a lot of mobilization by civil society in support of a welcoming of the refugees before Merkel made official announcements. And I'm just wondering to what extent, if that's your reading as well. And secondly, if that influenced Merkel's decision?
ANDREAS WUST: Well, you're right. There has always been the signs of for refugees welcome and support for refugees, and non-government organization and especially the oppositional parties, the Greens and the left pointing to the problems and urging Germany and the government to help. In the media, it was more the protests, more the danger, those attacks against some asylum seekers and some attacks against refugee homes, especially in the East that attracted attention. I don't think that in addition to what the government already recognized and internationally observed, that civil society, at this point, contributed significantly in addition to Merkel's decision. But that's just my perception at that point.
AUDIENCE: I have a question. But first, let me say that you are speaking in Ithaca, New York, which is a city of asylum, which has recently created a new group called Ithaca Welcomes Refugees. I hope many people here will take note of this. My question is, that when you listed the reasons you gave for Angela Merkel's support for refugee invitation you mentioned values. You mentioned strategy. You mentioned randomness.
I was surprised that you didn't mention history-- Germany's history-- Germany's history between 1933 and 1944-- as something that no German forgets. And I wondered if that was not a reason for Chancellor Merkel's support. I
ANDREAS WUST: Indirectly mentioned history in quoting or Angela Merkel referring to the asylum law and to the Geneva Convention, which especially in Germany, thinking back to the last refugee crisis in '92 and '93, lived. So this wasn't was important. And another issue that I raised is Eastern Germany and Merkel being born in the West, but then the family moved to the East. So she grew up in the East was certainly very important for that.
To what extent the history before and during the Second World War played a role, a direct role, it's difficult to assess. But the fact that we have or had the most liberal asylum law in the Constitution of West Germany, which then was changed in '93, is an argument for the past being very important for the present as well. So, yeah, but I'm happy to hear that Ithaca has an initiative for refugees and looking at all those numbers and how many refugees Germany accepted. There are a couple of countries in the world that could maybe take some more refugees.
AUDIENCE: I'm wondering regarding the differences is in attitudes-- the East Germans attitudes are less welcoming to refugees. And I'm wondering how that attitude-- if it effects the [INAUDIBLE] states at all, and also how that effects the integration of refugees once they are settled in East Germany compared to West Germany?
ANDREAS WUST: Well, from sociology we know that the contact hypothesis is pretty strong. So let's look at it in a positive way. Once you have contact with people, once you experience what they lived through-- and actually, I've talked to quite a few of those refugees. And many of them did not just leave the country because of problems. They have been bombed out and lost family, friends, neighbors, several times.
So once you know what happened and once you are in touch with them, your attitudes might change. And those the success for the Alternative for Germany party, the right-wing party, is stronger in those areas where we hardly have refugees. And this is indicating that maybe we should intensify dialogue. We should enter-- and this is what Merkel did at this point, very late, but she did that, to confront the public and the citizens that there are people suffering, and there's the opportunity for us to help. And we might even have something of that.
Just a few months ago, I was at a forum with French researchers and German researchers. And one said, maybe this was just a strategy to bring in foreign workers. So an intelligent a way of solving a labor shortage, which we now have in Germany, and to maybe help the demographic development, to counteract that, because Germany, like many European societies, is an aging society. And we need immigrants.
We need immigration. I wouldn't go so far. I don't think that was in mind of Angela Merkel or any official. But you're right, on the other hand, that refugees are very reluctant in going to the East and sometimes complaining of being sent there. And very few are sent there because looking at the Koenigstein key for the distribution into Eastern European, into Eastern and German countries, the rates are significantly lower. So they are not sent there-- that many, at least.
AUDIENCE: Who is is paying for all this refugee response? I would assume it's very expensive. Is it paid for by taxation, cutting down welfare, debts? In other words, who's losing money from all of this? And are the refugees expected to compensate for the current expenditures [INAUDIBLE], perhaps in the future, once they have the capacity to pay?
ANDREAS WUST: One answer that Philip Martin give on that is looking at the EU-Turkey agreement is that it's much cheaper to finance the camps in Turkey than to finance the centers and integration in Germany. Who's paying for that? The taxpayer is paying for that. Germany is a wealthy country. And compared to other expenses, at least talking for the national challenge and also for the other Western states, it's not that much of a problem yet.
It would get a problem if we are not able to integrate these people to get them into jobs. And since they are quite young, and pretty preliminary results show that at least there is some potential of entering the labor market. They are a portion of highly educated people, especially the Syrian refugees. And a proportion that is also able to enter vocational training to get into more manual jobs. Then I'm quite optimistic that, also looking at the age composition, that we will be able to gain in the medium and in the long run from the refugees that have arrived last year.
AUDIENCE: I have a question, could you explain [INAUDIBLE]
AUDIENCE: Please use the mic.
AUDIENCE: Could you explain what are the jobs that are available for these refugees? And also could you give us a sociological prospect to what are the stories these people are providing? There's a certain path. It's very different from previous refugees that are coming to Europe, So what are the stories? How do they feel that [INAUDIBLE]? What are the stories that they provide and also what [INAUDIBLE] refugees?
ANDREAS WUST: As you know, jobs available, you don't normally go there and say, OK, this is the different kinds of jobs you can choose. Take this or that. So you need to have certain qualifications to be able to get a certain job. And what I tried to say is that there is potential on different levels, but we need training on those different levels also. So it is only for a very small portion. And since about 80% are not able to show their job qualifications because they do not have documents or these things are not available, destroyed sometimes during the war, where they had to escape, it is not always easy to find out what they are able to do.
But what the government at least did and the legislation at least did is to make entry into the job possible at an earlier stage. So already, after three months in the country, refugees with a perspective can actually enter a job. There's also the possibility for some small internships while they're still in the refugee centers. But we are in the beginning of that.
So all kinds of programs and initiatives are starting. And I think there will be plenty of opportunities. Although, if you come as a highly educated, maybe academic, from Syria, and you are offered a job, but at a significantly lower level, this might be a problem also.
But at this stage, you saw the peak in November, and we are now in May, it is very difficult to say something reliable on that question. And the other issue, this is more how-- there's a whole branch of research also dealing with stories of immigrants coming to Germany or to Europe in specific. So where should I start? Where should I end? It's difficult.
AUDIENCE: How good is the current model at predicting the flow of immigrants? Do you get enough information to be able to tell how many beds you're going to be needing, how much food you're going to need? What happens when Hungary the closes its borders? Where are those immigrants likely to flow? And it's a dire thing from the way that we've been doing so far at handling this number of people. Is there data available to develop better models for future problems, like the coming migration crisis from coastal plains in Bangladesh and Vietnam being flooded, things like that?
ANDREAS WUST: So this is a question on the practitioner side of mine. There are all kinds of emergency units that have been grown. We have a telephone conference, a daily telephone conference, that started in the fall with all the relevant actors on the national level-- the Department of State, which has observers at certain countries.
So we have the information and that is quite-- or now we have the information that is quite good in predicting the flows, I would say, glance for one or two weeks, at least. And with the experience we had in 2015, we are also confident to manage future crises as well. Models or modeling of refugee flows are very difficult because there are all kinds of variables that you cannot put easily in your model.
Thinking about Syria, the majority of the refugees is still in the country. They just moved from their homes to other areas or other places in the country. And then there's a significant proportion also in the neighboring countries, and they are hoping to be able to return to Syria pretty soon. So it is very difficult to predict whether there's a certain point, where also these people say, no, I cannot stay in Lebanon. I can no longer stay in Egypt, for example. I have to move to another country, especially to Central Europe, which is now very difficult, given the system that we have. Because these are safe third countries.
But this is probably not but you wanted to hear. So you wanted to hear about a model predicting refugee flows across the world. This more sounds like a question or idea of if you have that model, you will probably win the Nobel Prize.
AUDIENCE: I just have a question regarding the applications. I know the US said that there's a family that's been settled here as refugees, and they have other family back home or at a camp. The applications for the families become easier if they have an established family member because they have an established support system. Is it the same in Germany, the same in the EU?
ANDREAS WUST: There are different levels of asylum that we have. And in on the level of asylum being granted on the basis of the Constitution of the asylum law and of the Geneva Convention, it is quite easy to bring in family members. I would say the spouses and children, not anybody else. It's different in the United States, if I recall that right. That it's also possible to bring in relatives, like Brothers and Sisters Act was in '65, I think the immigration law called.
So this expansion is not possible based on the regulation we have in Germany. And there's also, I would say, Germany is a little bit reluctant in providing more staff for bringing in all these family members. So maybe you can say that right now we are still digesting what happened last year. And we are looking for all kinds of services and things we have to do specifically with the refugees that are already there. And probably a little bit later on, there will also be more support for bringing in family members, at least I expect that.
AUDIENCE: Hi. Thanks for talking for us and your help on the situation. I was wondering if there was much conversation about the long-term cultural significance this will have for Germany? I know in the UK, they have been dealing with the introduction of Sharia law in the UK. And I'm wondering if [INAUDIBLE], especially in regards to the rights of women? Because Sharia law is also being introduced to Germany a little bit, with Sharia police. And I was wondering if there was much conversation about that?
ANDREAS WUST: Could you maybe specify your question again, because I didn't get the point.
AUDIENCE: Sorry. In the UK, there have been over 100 Sharia courts established to run for some people who have immigrated. It looks like there may be something similar in the future for Germany because there are some Sharia police who have put on vests and walked around Germany. And so far, they've been allowed to do that. And I was wondering if there's any conversation about the long-term cultural influence of the immigrants on Germany.
ANDREAS WUST: I'm not familiar with what's happening in Britain. What we have is there all kinds of statistics. Crime rates, for instance, grew in the neighborhoods where refugee homes are, or refugees are more of a danger than other people are. And when it comes to capital crimes, when it comes to really bad things, there is no significant effect of the refugees, because most of them, just get support from the state.
They get food. Later on at a certain stage, they might get direct subsidies and money also. So there certainly is-- there is-- if compared to the German population, they might be more inclined to commit certain crimes, minor crimes. And this you can see in the statistics. But still there's no big concern, I would say, across the country that the whole culture will change.
Except for one event that took place on New Year's Eve, maybe you're pointing towards that. So that the young women were sexually harassed by people that are of African or oriental origin. And this happened in certain cities and stimulated a big discussion of whether the more or less Arabic man is more inclined and has more a problem, for instance, with women.
But actually, police found out that it was a mix of persons. So there were some refugees among them, some who have been staying in Germany longer, and also some people that are native Germans. So this seem to have been something that happened, maybe stimulated by the refugee flow. And of course there's a discussion on the treatment of women. And if you look at the composition of the refugees, and if you look at the preliminary qualifications also, there's a big gap between the male refugee population and the females, which are less qualified.
So this might then lead to inequality to a higher extent. So but also, here we are in the beginning of a discussion of for instance, referring or thinking about Turkish-origin women. There is a certain portion that is really successful, quite well integrated, and performing much better than the native Germans. So there's hope.
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Andreas Wüst, head of the Initial Reception of Refugees Unit for Germany’s Ministry for Integration in Baden-Württemberg, has managed the challenges of admitting refugees to Germany since 2014. He spoke at Cornell May 2, 2016, as part of the Foreign Policy Distinguished Speaker Series organized by the Mario Einaudi Center for International Studies. The event was co-sponsored by the Migration Initiative of the Cornell Institute for European Studies.