Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Germans Adopt Hard-Fought Compromise on Asylum

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Germans Adopt Hard-Fought Compromise on Asylum

Article excerpt

NOW that German politicians have reached a broad-based compromise on how to stem the flow of asylum seekers here, it remains to be seen how quickly and effectively they can put their plans into practice.

Friedrich Bohl, Chancellor Helmut Kohl's chief of staff, yesterday said he expects Sunday's compromise to "quickly clear all parliamentary hurdles."

Although Mr. Bohl admitted that not all of the wishes of Kohl's Christian Democratic Union were met, he said the compromise would nonetheless "effectively" stem the flow of asylum seekers in Germany - estimated at a record 500,000 this year.

It took months of debate and 50 hours of negotiations for the parties in the government's center-right coalition to reach agreement with the opposition Social Democrats, who had long maintained that the asylum application procedure should not be touched.

But the flood of applicants, the almost daily right-wing extremist attacks on homes for asylum seekers, and the fear of losing voters to right-wing parties forced the negotiators to a solution. The compromise seeks to cull economic refugees from the truly politically oppressed. Although it preserves the constitutional right of individuals to seek asylum, as well as to appeal if they are rejected, several exceptions are planned.

Asylum seekers from European Community states as well as states which accept the Geneva Convention on Refugees and the European Human Rights Convention "will not enjoy the right to asylum" and will be turned away at the border, said Wolfgang Schauble, parliamentary leader of Kohl's Christian Democrats, at a press conference late Sunday night. War refugees will be handled separately.

HE plan also calls for a list of "safe countries" to be drawn up where no political persecution is known, and to be approved by the Bundesrat, the upper house of parliament. Refugees from these countries will be refused entry unless they can argue their case convincingly.

Lawmakers say they will introduce the changes to parliament immediately after the Christmas break. …

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