Bundestag Vice-President Johannes Singhammer (CSU) has warned that refugee numbers would increase if plans to grant visa liberalisation to Turkey come to fruition. EURACTIV’s partner Der Tagesspiegel reports.
Singhammer warned against granting Turkey visa-free travel in the EU, warning that Germany would “not be able to cope with it”.
“Just the sheer number of Kurds, who would be eligible for the visa, might use it to stay in the EU permanently and could lead to a similarly large migration as last year,” Singhammer told Der Tagesspiegel.
Luxembourg Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn recently indicated his optimism that the EU and Turkey could resolve their differences when it comes to the proposed liberalisation plan, but Singhammer reiterated that all conditions have to be met first.
“The German government has to ensure such a development in Brussels is prevented,” he added. This would need a detailed debate in the Bundestag.
The CSU politician demanded more honesty in the matter. “We can help them (Turkey) with the refugees. But we have to make it clear that Germany and Europe are not ready for full visa liberalisation.” Singhammer clarified that any Turks with family or business ties in Germany would get a visa “easily”.
Singhammer also insisted that promises of visa liberalisation are unnecessary when it comes to leveraging more rule of law and religious freedom. The country has already received “billions from the EU towards this very goal”, the politician said. “Turkey should have, regardless of the visa issue, a strong interest in seeing this support continue,” Singhammer added.
The Bundestag VP also said that his party, the CSU, should have a stronger dialogue with the church when it comes to the refugee debate. The party’s general secretary, Andreas Scheuer, received heavy criticism after comments he made about immigration.
Scheuer, when speaking about a Senegalese migrant, said that “the worst is a football-playing, altar-serving Senegalese migrant, who has been here for three years, as an economic migrant. We can’t get rid of him.” The German Bishop’s Conference, and its chairman Cardinal Reinhard Marx, condemned his remarks.
Singhammer maintained that the CSU can still draw on heavy support from its religious voter base, praising the work done in Germany, especially by church groups in Bavaria, to welcome refugees.