tv Quadriga - The International Talk Show LINKTV October 24, 2015 2:00pm-2:31pm PDT
activists and politicians are targets of threats and violence by right-wing extremists, like the knife attack on a politician in cologne. is the mood in germany at a tipping point? is the government responsive enough to the danger? coming to you from berlin, "quadriga," the international debate. your host this week, melinda crane. melinda: hello and welcome to "quadriga." wasw weeks ago, germany celebrating its culture of welcome for migrants. is that already at an end? that is what we want to talk about with three people who have been following the rep yuji story closely. alan posener is a german-british author. he says germany is becoming a withl european country populist parties on the left-hand the right. there is no reason to panic. american journalist erik kirschbaum working for the
reuters news agency in berlin and is the author of a number of books on germany. he says the world is looking on germany with respect and admiration and so far, the government has done a terrific job striking the right balance. our third guest today, a warm welcome to hungarian-born reporter anna frenyo. she works for the television network ard and says pressure is growing, but the basic mood will not shift. whoever is against welcoming refugees is still against it and whoever has been welcoming them will keep on trying to help. alan posener, you said that germany is simply becoming a normal country. but knife attacks against politicians are hardly normal either here or in most other countries. last week, a pegida demonstration featured a mock gallows with reserved places for chancellor merkel and her finance minister. is there truly no cause for alarm? alan: i think you have to
differentiate between gallows and knife attacks. it is one thing to say death to whatever and have a picture of a gallows. it is another to actually attack someone. there is a difference between words and deeds. over 400 attacks on refugee asylum centers this year alone. smallre is a small, very group of people willing to use violence to further their nefarious ends. but you have to differentiate that from people who might go slightly overboard in their criticism of the political system. that is very important. words and deeds, there is a difference. melinda: anna frenyo, alan posener just mentioned attacks on refugee shelters and refugees themselves. the new york times is reporting that there have been more
attacks in germany than any other country in europe. when you look at the situation and the mood in germany, how would you compare it to hungary, where you spend a good deal of time and whose politicians certainly have not minced words when it comes to opposing migration. anna: the situation is alarming in hungary as well as in germany. i think it is worse in hungary because of the political situation. however, i think we have to take words very seriously because they are paving the way to deeds. younda: in other words, would say a knife attack like the one on the politician in cologne who was running for mayor but had previously been in charge of social welfare matters in cologne and also of refugees, you would say words paved the way for that knife attack? anna: definitely. this might just be the beginning. melinda: erik kirschbaum, you
say the government is doing a terrific job of striking a balance. is the open-armed welcome of refugees, what is provoking this wave of fear and the fear inciting violence? erik: there is no easy answer to the problem. refugees thision year, a huge number. there is going to be tension and problems. i think the world is looking on in fascination at the job germany is doing. the rest of the eu is dropping the ball and germany is carrying the load here. there are going to be tensions and conflicts. it is a very open society, germany. the knife attack, as appalling tension, with as much that is going on, things like that will happen. stay calm about it. germany is doing the right thing. he is being prosecuted. the state, based on the rule of law, is functioning.
just stay calm. it is working. melinda: let's take a look at the climate of fear that surrounds pegida. we saw images in our opening video of the demonstrations in dresden this past monday evening. much of the attention on that evening focused on one speaker. he is a writer who attacked germany's politicians for their handling of the refugee crisis, thereby prompting chants of resistance among the crowd. then he had this to say. , butere are alternatives the concentration camps are not in operation at the moment. so there are alternatives, but the concentration camps are unfortunately not in operation at the moment. those were his words. it was not clear whether the target of that was meant to be migrants themselves or german politicians, whether he was
suggesting that perhaps they should be those who should be sent to concentration camps. in fact, any mention of concentration camps in this country is deeply shocking. would you say, when you hear a speech like that at a pegida rally, that the tone has changed ? alan: he has been qoted -- quoted wrongly. he is a very bad person and a horrible writer. apart from that, he was quoted wrong. what he said was the government , but to deal with us unfortunately for them, they do not have concentration caps on he more. he was suggesting that if the government had their way, they would put pegida in a ne whotration camp or anyo is opposed to their policy. he was shouted down for that. but he was misquoted in the media as saying that refugees
should be put in concentration camps. if we do this kind of thing as journalists, then we are feeding the suspicion that we are what they call the lying press. let's be careful about that. he said it very stupidly. no one is going to put pegida in concentration camp, but he did not say let's put the refugees in concentration camps. let's make that clear. melinda: speaking of resentment of the media, one of our dw colleagues was attacked at this rally. violence against him, literally beaten. what accounts for the hatred and the resentment of the media? thingi saw the same happening in hungary as well. i think a lot of people associate media with the ones who brought in this refugee crisis. they were the ones transmitting the words of chancellor merkel,
you are all welcome. if they are afraid and they see , what is plague happening these days, then who should they make responsible for this? melinda: suggesting that the media are part of the political elite. erik kirschbaum, from the start, you have reported on pegida since it was founded a year ago. it was seen initially as a , without disaffection clear political aims. would you say that is changing? has the movement become radicalized? erik: about six months ago, hardly anyone wrote about pegida anymore. it had gone past its heyday and now it is getting a resurgence. just remember, this is 20,000 people in a country of 80 million people. it is still a small group of people, a splintered group of people.
one part of these, never caught on anywhere else. there have been counter demonstrations in dresden as well. pegida is not a threat to the constitution. it is not a threat to democracy in germany. sometimes, things just get a little bit heated. pegida is not about to take control of the government. it is a small group. melinda: if you are a journalist, you better hide your address the erik: i have been in dresden and i get a creepy feeling when they start shouting . it is definitely not what is wrong with these people, but it is a small group. melinda: the german interior minister said this week that hard, is being led by right-wing extremists. and said that the government actually -- absolutely has its eye on the movement. it is a clearthat
political movement with a clear political agenda? alan: well, it certainly did not start that way. they arehey say patriotic europeans against the islamization of the european continent. that is what their name means. this word, islamization, that is a clear signal word which means is in cahoots with all sorts of islamic forces to islamize our country. it is a right-wing ideology that somehow the other is about to take over our country. we had this in the 1930's against the jews, who were seen as the other who were going to take over the jewish republic. this remains the fact that there are at most 20,000. back then, there were millions.
bad, but theyre are not dangerous yet. melinda: prosecutors are looking into whether they ought to be moving against some of the inciters at these rallies on charges of hate speech. do you think it is time for the law to step in? anna: in this country, things like this are taking bursars lee. there are certain things you cannot -- are taken very seriously. there are certain things you cannot say. whereas, in france, they might be ok with that. i do not necessarily think it is a good way to prosecute these people. you are going to feed more hatred with that. ifhink it makes more sense you try to speak to them and understand their fears and try to explain the situation to their followers. melinda: germans take a different view of hate speech in some cases.
legal culture tends to put freedom of opinion at the very top. many germans would say, actually, respect for human values should be higher. what do you think? should this kind of speech be prosecuted? if someone says something like that, they get prosecuted. in the united states, freedom of speech is a very important aspect. in the far right, when people open their mouths and start talking, people see how disqualify they are. so let them say what they say and let the people decide. most educated people in germany enough about their own history to realize, oh no, these people are really from another parent -- planet. wordsa: if we agree that can inspire deeds and, in a
country like germany, which certainly has had a neo-nazi movement, we know the crimes of the nfu, in the eastern part of germany, where pegida is also based, 10 years of murdering people with impunity, should we not -- not be concerned about what kind of damage speech like this can do? alan: we should definitely be talking with these people and showing how foolish and evil that kind of speech is. but we should not be prosecuting it. on a personal level, i used to be a communist when i was a young man. we shouted death to u.s. imperialism. i did not get prosecuted for that. i got prosecuted for hitting a police man. i think that is totally right. looking back, they prosecuted me for a right reason.
the way west germany was relaxed in that respect, although we had a very active terrorist movement, the raf, which killed people all over the place, we managed to differentiate them and we should differentiate now. erik: i think most people forget about it. what is more dangerous is when politicians and parties start complaining about the numbers of refugees coming. that is more dangerous. that is when you reach a lot of people. and those words worry me a lot more gemma people say at a pegida rally. we are hearing some words from the chancellor's political party. the chancellor had a very unpleasant meeting with her party in an eastern town where several suggested she ought to be stepping down. that concernw
about the tide of migration is rising within the wider population? erik had said this is confined to a small movement. we have seen mainstream members of the chancellor's party questioning whether this way is the right one. anna: i think the chancellor is doing the right thing. her party is turning against her. a lot of people are turning against her. the only humane thing she could do is being done. she has her line and she is seeing it through. as a hunger in and having met refugees, i see people in front of my eyes. the only thing you can do if you are a politician of germany, if you are the leader of germany, is to try to help as many as possible. of course, this means stepping out of our comfort zone for everybody in europe. it is not easy.
but she is doing exactly the right thing. it is a natural reaction that people start not liking her. melinda: alan posener, what do you think? could opposition within her own ranks wind up bringing the chancellor down? alan: yes. it is not just migration. this is the last draw that broke the camels back. their own party, the conservative party, she has led the cdu in places they never thought they would go, recognizing a right, abolishing nuclear power, abolishing the draft. they have been unhappy with this for a long time. finally, the right wing have got a handle to bring her down. and they may succeed. you know what? that might be a good thing. quite frankly, germany lacks a true right-wing party. needs amocracy
decision, a rift in the middle between the left and the right. we have had a grand coalition in germany so many years that parliament is becoming irrelevant because there is no discussion. if that is what it takes to bring germany back to a democracy, where there is a left and a right fighting each other, so be it. melinda: doesn't germany have a right-wing, populist party in the form of the christian social union? from what we hear amongst the press here in the capital city of berlin, there is quite a rift between the two parties at the moment. bit: the csu was a irrelevant. now they can get their name back in the media. their popularity is still really high. i do not see her in as much trouble as you do. i think she is committed and on this course. this is a rare chance in the 10
years of merkel where she is ahead of the wave and showing real leadership. usually, she is behind and seeing what everyone else is doing. she is showing real leadership. i think she is going to come out looking really strong for this. the world outside is looking at merkel for a lot of admiration. leadership. showing i get the feeling with merkel, if this is the end of her way itlory, that is the is. she is not going to change course now. she is determined and committed to i have been away from germany for a few weeks. when i left, the move was really optimistic. it surprises me that the mood has turned so dark, so quickly. i guess that is the german way of jumping on a problem. melinda: the government has passed a major revision to its asylum laws. let's take a look at that. many people are saying it could represent the first step towards
capitulation towards the hate and fear mongers. >> border fences and barbed wire against people seeking refuge in north europe. could this soon happen in germany? angela merkel meeting with refugees. the chancellor has advocated a culture of welcome. but it has received a damper. german lawmakers have tightened asylum rule. now asylum seekers are to receive goods like clothes and food instead of cash. migrants who are unlikely to be granted asylum can be deported more quickly. politicians from merkel's governing coalition want to set up transit zones at the frontier. and the police union is already calling for a fence along germany's border to keep refugees out. frenyo, youa
commute back and forth between berlin and budapest. budapest, hungary, of course, has now built some walls. the chancellor keeps telling us walls are not the answer. how are those walls working out for hungary? workedhey definitely out. the plan has worked perfectly. we have practically no immigrants left in hungary, no refugees. we do have 700 in prison who are waiting for being sent out of the country. the problem has been solved. has the problem been solved? i met these refugees at the border, the last train they came through hungary to the austrian border. now these people are going through -- they are still out there. they are still in the rain. still mothers and children. what has this solved? melinda: alan posener, if europe
does not work together to find it choice solution for the refugee crisis -- and at this point, we still do not see much sign of 1 -- germany eventually have to go in the direction that hungary has taken? in other words, simply shut it orders? within the zone of free travel in europe, you pass across a border, it was not there. my daughter forgot her passport and nobody cared because nobody looked. this is something incredible. something that has never been there in europe before. if we want to protect that, we do have to protect our borders. was right in orban saying that, in keeping them out of hungary, i am keeping them away from you.
to protectave europe's outer borders and europe has to work together to do that. i hope that is going to happen because otherwise, to defend the nationalism of old would be a catastrophe. the end of a dream. melinda: the government is hoping that with this new asylum law and the measures that it imposes that the flow of migrants will slow down. do you think that will be the case? will it make much of a difference? erik: hard to say. i think they are doing the right thing, taking small steps by the using military planes. i think they are trying to keep the people in germany pacified. a lot of people in germany don't have a problem with more refugees. refugees.preciate
they have a problem with the economic refugees from the balkans. you can take some of the tension out of the situation by repatriating others to pacify the population a bit. melinda: do you think that this new asylum law represents a vilkommen ande that migrants with a legitimate claim do deserve refuge? anna: i think the climate is definitely turning, in a way. there has to be a certain upper limit. how many people can germany welcome? what i also see is there is a lot of poverty in this whole business. which i see in germany and france as well. from the refugee camp, the government spends 15,000 euros per immigrant to take them by private jet to refugee centers. from there, they just walk back.
you know, what are we actually doing here? these are people whose lives we are jumbling around with. welcome,p will be which will give hope to end the influx of more people. melinda: i talked about whether the mood has turned ugly. on the basis of the new asylum law and what you are hearing at demonstrations, would you answer that quickly? alan: it has turned realistic and that is a good thing. melinda: ok. many thanks to all of you for being here today. thanks to all of you out there for tuning in. see you soon.
host: hello and welcome to this week's "focus on europe," showing you the human stories behind the headlines. great you could join us. and on today's programme we're zipping all over the continent. in greece, the refugee who's racing towards a better life. in france, the floods and what caused them. and in norway, moving country, but staying in jail. one of the flash points of europe's refugee crisis is the