On Tuesday, November 1, 2016, Dr. Joyce Mushaben visited Europe Today – Euro 301, as part of the German Embassy’s “German Campus Week“. Her presentation, titled “We Can Do It!”, looked at the reasoning behind Chancellor Angela Merkel’s decision to increase the integration efforts for refugees, and the response from the far right political movements in Germany.
Dr. Mushaben pointed out that Merkel entered into power at a pivotal time in German history, and focused on three major factors. The first, she said, was the changing realization that citizenship based on bloodline was simply inadequate to fit the needs of millions of people within Germany’s borders. The second was that there was a generational shift in belief. “My people, the baby-boomers, we wanted garlic on our foods, hot sauce and Mexican food, we wanted to try new things. We felt differently than the people who came before us. We wanted,” she then pointed to the third defining factor, “globalization.” The world was shrinking, and the younger generation at the time, the baby-boomers, wanted to embrace it.
As Merkel pushed to change laws within the EU as a whole, and thus require Germany to respond as a member nation, Mushaben pointed out the rise of populist movements also came to light. “Historically, I get nervous any time we see a rise of these movements, especially in Germany,” she stated, reminding the audience of Germany’s dark history with far-right politics. “In the early nineties, there were 2,500 violent, xenophobic attacks across Germany. To pretend this was only an East German problem is a lie. Overall, historically, this isn’t a ‘refugee problem’. It’s a German problem. And it’s something that needs to be addressed.” She then went on to discuss the economic benefits of increasing the skilled labor force in any nation, and how Merkel sees the value in this potential increased labor force.
Germany has greatly improved it’s ability to take in refugees, but there is still work to be done. “EU member states are not just breaking international laws set by the Geneva Convention, they are breaking EU regulations and laws. This has to be considered unacceptable. More must be done to support these people,” Mushaben stated.