EU cash-dumping in Africa bolsters unruly regimes, aggravates migrant crisis

Martin Jay
Martin Jay is an award winning British journalist now based in Beirut who works on a freelance basis for a number of respected British newspapers as well as previously Al Jazeera and Deutsche Welle TV. Before Lebanon, he has worked in Africa and Europe for CNN, Euronews, CNBC, BBC, Sunday Times and Reuters. Follow him on Twitter @MartinRJay
EU cash-dumping in Africa bolsters unruly regimes, aggravates migrant crisis
Trump’s recent block on US aid to Egypt over human rights concerns raised many eyebrows. But the EU should follow his lead in Africa as it is geopolitical bribery dressed up as aid, which is really the heart of the matter.

Recently, Europe’s four big guns and three African states agreed on a strategy to tackle illegal human trafficking and support nations struggling to contain the flow of people across the desert and the Mediterranean Sea. The move has been prompted primarily by Italy, which accused France and other EU states of not sharing the migrant burden.

But is it an EU problem? And if it is, just how much blame can the EU and Brussels take for the crisis in the first place?

The 28-nation European Union has long struggled to reach any solution to the influx of migrants fleeing war, poverty and political upheaval in the Middle East and Africa. Specifically, it is Africa where Brussels seems incapable of dealing with the crisis, the epicenter of which is Libya, which French President Emmanual Macron is trying to stabilize with a recent initiative to bring together the two rival power blocs for peace talks following a recent ceasefire.

Macron is also leading the much-needed debate about the refugee crisis from Africa. Addressing the leaders of Germany, Italy, Spain, Chad, Niger and Libya, he called for greater cooperation.

A recent conference allowed leaders to iron out a plan setting out a mechanism to identify legitimate migrants who are fleeing war and persecution. The idea is that they can avoid being exploited by traffickers if the UN can register them in Niger and Chad.

“At the core of it, it’s all about fighting illegal migration,” German Chancellor Angela Merkel said.

EU programs in Libya pay cash to traffickers – MEPs

And she’s right. Although this is a step in the right direction, aren’t both France and Germany paying diplomatic lip service to the EU in not pointing out one erroneous detail in all of this: if the EU imposed much tougher conditions on aid given to African leaders, forcing them to improve on human rights, the effect on the sheer numbers of people fleeing those countries would be considerable.

They are not fleeing poverty alone, but more oppression.

Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) recently accused the EU of financing the trafficking business with its aid program in Libya. The program, which has funded coastguards to patrol against human smugglers, has led to the deplorable plight of captured migrants being held in detention centers. Nevertheless, Italian and Spanish MEPs on September 12th regaled the EU foreign affairs chief, Federica Mogherini for her new EU programs, which MSF claims are “short-sighted” and have resulted in the traffickers actually benefiting from EU cash.

Yet the MEPs and MSF missed the point. The international medical organization and the growing numbers of MEPs should look more closely at the EU aid programs for the African countries themselves.

Building detention centers for the refugees is like using a sticking plaster from the first aid box to deal with a decapitation. Simple logic is required. Donald Trump gave us the example in August when he cut off US aid to Egypt, citing human rights concerns.

The problem with dictators on the continent is that they become addicted to Washington or the EU’s aid lifeline. Soon enough, leaders ask for more money to resolve problems which stem from symptoms of escalating corruption. It’s a vicious circle which neither Merkel nor Macron care to acknowledge.

At the auspicious conference, this was apparent, with even EU leaders falling into the trap of throwing more money at the problem.

“If we want to stop human traffickers, then this can only be achieved through development aid,” Angela Merkel said.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, there wasn’t a shortage of African leaders who were ready to present their former colonial leaders with begging bowls.

But money will not solve the issue. In fact, it is EU money – by the lorry load – which is at the heart of the problem.

EU President Antonio Tajani recently recommended that up to $6 billion should be put aside to stop migrants and $10 billion to do the same in Libya’s southern neighbor, Chad. Britain’s Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson pledged on a recent trip to Benghazi and Tripoli €9 million to help control terrorism and people trafficking. With no loss of an irony, the Italians have been accused of paying off local militias to stop the flow of migrants to their shores.

After living in Africa for six years, I have seen with my own eyes how Western money nearly always creates cultures of dependency and makes governments more ingenious at stealing it, illustrated by investigative journalist Graeme Hancock in his investigation into UN corruption, ‘Lords of Poverty.’

Ethan Chorin, a contributor to Forbes magazine agrees.

“Uncoordinated and vague, these pledges have little chance to make progress — but large potential to make things worse,” he argues, while dismissing the case for a ‘Marshall Plan’ for Africa, arguing instead for regional players to stop financing the warlords in Libya.

However, the real core problem, which neither old Europe nor the EU wants to address, still lies with the African countries themselves. And they have good reason.

Nearly 120,000 migrants, including refugees, have entered Europe by sea so far this year, according to the International Organization for Migration. Tragically, more than 2,400 have drowned while making the dangerous journey, often without enough food or water in overcrowded dinghies run by people smugglers.

Yet, most of these people are lower middle-class Africans who want to escape the horror of tyrannical regimes which are oppressing them, convincing them that they have a better life waiting for them in Europe. The real issue is human rights and how the EU continues to blithely support these regimes with hundreds of millions of euro in ‘development’ programs while turning a blind eye to horrific human rights atrocities like torture, rape, and false imprisonment.

Macron should hold the EU to account much more. Ironically, at the very conference where the EU’s foreign policy diva Federica Mogherini is invited – but could not organize as she has so little influence with Paris and Berlin – we are witnessing a farce. The EU is asked to offer its opinion to a problem which is almost entirely created by its own foreign policy ruse with African leaders.

A new UN peace process on Libya – which Macron, not Brussels is taking charge of – might want to ask the EU to hold the leaders of many African countries to account more on human rights atrocities and follow Trump’s example in Egypt.

Baby, you can drive my CAR

The Central African Republic (CAR), for example, which the EU gives hundreds of millions of euro is one of many examples. And we could also, while we’re at it, ask what this money is really for. Being ‘development aid,’ the results are hard to fathom. After working in Brussels for over a decade, I would argue that the money gives Brussels more bang for its buck as those governments are obliged to assist Brussels in its PR program to make itself look more relevant on the world stage.

In 2016, Federica Mogherini herself pledged to give over €2 billion in reconstruction aid following civil war there. It’s hard to see how this, or the more modest €360 million of state-building ‘aid’ given to CAR is helping crack down on torture, rape and a plethora of abysmal human rights atrocities, but more assist the EU with its delusional view that it is a global player.

According to the US State Department, CAR has an off-the-scale rating on human rights atrocities. These include“extrajudicial executions by security forces; the torture, beating and rape of suspects and prisoners; impunity, particularly among the armed forces; harsh and life-threatening conditions in prisons and detention centers; arbitrary arrest and detention, prolonged pretrial detention and denial of fair trials.”

‘Politics raped European values’: EU court rejects Hungary & Slovakia’s bid to stop refugee flow 

Photo published for ‘Politics raped European values’: Hungary & Slovakia slam EU court for refusing quota demands — RT...

‘Politics raped European values’: Hungary & Slovakia slam EU court for refusing quota demands — RT…

The European Court of Justice has ruled that the current system of quotas for resettling refugees is proportionate, amid protests by east European states that cite culture clashes and terrorist…

The State Department also highlights, for good measure “fatal mob violence; the prevalence of female genital mutilation; discrimination against women and Pygmies; trafficking in persons; forced labor; and child labor.”

But there is no real accountability from the EU on where this money is spent, a point often raised by critics of Brussels which call it a “blind spot,” with as much as half of the annual 23 billion euros lost due to corruption and incompetence.

Nor, any reports from the European Commission on what it is doing to crack down on gargantuan human rights atrocities carried out by the CAR regime.

Is it hardly surprising that there is an exodus of people from this country escaping the vestiges of human rights atrocities which, arguably, are meted by a brutal despot supported by the EU?

If this money was used instead to assist start-up companies and train young people in entrepreneurialism – and be given only on the basis of leaders scrapping their atrocious practices – then not only would the migrants not leave their own countries and head for Europe, but they would create jobs for thousands of others in their own countries.

The problem really is the money going there in the first place, and the unpalatable relationship leaders of these regimes have with Brussels, who almost uncertainly pocket the money themselves. It is really the EU which needs to be held to account much more about its own graft in these countries which is fueling the Libyan refugee crisis.

But who would do that? Macron and Merkel know what €20 billion of aid from Brussels and European states are doing in Africa. They are both guilty of turning a blind eye as they know this money is not improving human rights and creating jobs but merely strengthening unruly regimes who will stop at nothing to remain in power.

Martin Jay is based in Beirut and can be followed at @MartinRJay

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.

Courtesy, RT

Iran-style talks involving world powers may ease North Korea knot – Merkel

Iran-style talks involving world powers may ease North Korea knot – Merkel
Direct multilateral talks with North Korea modeled on the landmark 2015 Iran deal may help cool tensions over Pyongyang’s nuclear program, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said.

Speaking to the Frankfurter Allgemeine newspaper, Chancellor Merkel said comprehensive negotiations that led to the historic deal between Iran and all five permanent UN Security Council members plus Germany could be a model for resolving the North Korean crisis.

“If our participation in these talks is desired, I will immediately say yes,” Merkel said.

While saying she “could imagine” that such a format would help the “settlement of the North Korea conflict,” Merkel also noted that Europe and Germany “should be prepared to play a very active part in that.”

Under the 2015 deal brokered by Iran and six major powers – Russia, the US, Britain, China, and France, plus Germany – Tehran agreed to redesign and reduce its nuclear activities in exchange for the lifting of economic embargoes.

In the interview, Merkel said it was “a long but important time of diplomacy” that eventually resulted in a “good end.”

While advocating a diplomatic solution, she also said it is crucial to put pressure on North Korea so that the leadership in Pyongyang becomes more cooperative and willing to talk to the world community. Additional sanctions would be sufficient for Pyongyang to engage in negotiations, Merkel said.

Recently, tensions on the Korean Peninsula have escalated following a series of missile tests. The US and its regional allies have also ramped up military preparations, contributing to the flare-up in tensions. Last Sunday, Pyongyang said it had tested a hydrogen bomb, its most powerful weapon to date.

While condemning the test, Moscow also said that the actions of Washington and its regional ally are pushing North Korea to more aggressive steps. “The United States and South Korea are provoking Pyongyang by flexing military muscle and making repeated threats of intervention and pre-emptive strikes,” Frants Klintsevich, deputy head of the Federation Council committee for defense and security, said.

Kim Young-jae, the minister of foreign economic relations of North Korea, recently said that the US is not interested in a peaceful solution and is “pursuing the only vile goal – war.”

According to the German Foreign Office, there have been no high-level visits to North Korea by German government delegations or trips to Germany by North Koreans at the ministerial level. Both countries, however, share some trade and humanitarian ties.

Merkel reiterated her call for a peaceful solution while speaking to supporters on Friday. “It’s a challenge for everyone – Europe, USA, Japan, China, Russia – to find a diplomatic solution,” she said at the campaign rally, adding, “There is no military solution for the conflict regarding North Korea.”

Next week, Merkel is expected to have telephone conversations with Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese leader Xi Jinping to discuss North Korea. Both leaders have repeatedly called for diplomatic efforts to ease tensions on the Korean Peninsula.

Last Sunday, Putin and Xi “expressed their deep concern over this situation,” adding that the two leaders stressed the importance of “preventing chaos on the peninsula,” according to the Kremlin.

Putin “called on the international community not to give in to emotions and to take a reasonable and balanced approach,” it added.

Courtesy, RT

Angela Merkel addresses final Bundestag session before election

Chancellor Angela Merkel stressed themes of moderation and consensus in her final state of the nation address. Her speech was a hommage to the work of her grand coalition, but the Social Democrats refused to join in.

Watch video02:18

Germany’s final parliament session before the election

Two days after a debate against her Social Democratic challenger, Martin Schulz, drew tepid reviews, German Chancellor Angela Merkel addressed the final session of this German parliament on the state of the nation. It was a chance for her to set out at length her agenda if re-elected.

Significantly, Merkel started out with economics. She said that employment was at an all-time high and that Germany was the envy of Europe. But with an eye toward the Dieselgate scandal, she hinted that the government would increase regulation and work toward the goals of e-mobility, but added that there would be no ban on diesel motors.

“Now is the time to act commensurately and with moderation,” Merkel said.

While stressing past German inventions such as the MP3, Merkel said that Germany needed to become more innovative and pledged to devote three percent of the state budget to research and development.

“We don’t want to end up in the museum of technology,” Merkel said. “We want to lead the way.”

Gabriel and Merkel Merkel and her Social Democrat foreign minister may be parting ways

Other key areas

 On the topic of North Korea, Merkel said that there could only be a “peaceful, negotiated solution.” She said that she had conferred with other European leaders, South Korea and the US, about the possibility of imposing further economic sanctions against North Korea.

– She repeated her criticism of Turkey for “increasingly departing from the path of the rule of law.” She again called upon Ankara to release German citizens she says are being held illegally in Turkish jails, and said that she would consult Germany’s fellow EU states about suspending or ending potential Turkish accession to the bloc.

– Merkel said that progress was being made on the global crisis with refugees. She promised that Germany would work together with North African nations to stem the tide of migrants. “We still have to talk to them,” she said. “It makes no sense to pretend that we can change the world simply by deciding things in the German Bundestag.”

– She also defended her plans for an increase in German defense spending, saying that they had been decided upon before the election of Donald Trump as US president. Otherwise the foreign policy section of her speech contained nothing new.

Watch video01:20

Merkel’s political victory after ‘open-door policy’

SPD claims the credit

There was no overlooking the fact that Germany is holding a national election in less than three weeks and that Merkel’s grand coalition with the Social Democrats (SPD) is in the process of dissolving itself. Her speech was repeatedly interrupted by SPD parliamentarians staking claims to various achievements of the past four years. That drew an amused, almost maternal response from the chancellor.

“I don’t understand what you’re doing here,” Merkel said. “You should be happy about what we achieved together. Let’s celebrate our work in a coalition that was in many respects very successful.”

BundestagThe 18th German Bundestag dissolves after Tuesday’s session

You wouldn’t have known that from the SPD’s turn on the podium. While pointing out that the government had succeeded in instituting a minimum wage and a quota for women on the boards of major corporations, Social Democratic parliamentary leader Thomas Oppermann said the credit should go exclusively to his party.

Oppermann said the Social Democrats would do more for pensioners and women. He said that the SPD would free up money to close Germany’s digital deficit with the rest of the world.

“This country needs a chancellor who acts in the social democratic sense,” Oppermann said. “I don’t see this sort of courage in you.”

Oppermann did not take Merkel to task on foreign-policy issues, which was hardly surprising given that the foreign ministers of the past four years came from the SPD. That task fell to the opposition parties.

Speaking for the Greens, party co-leader Cem Özdemir called upon the government to “stop cozying up” to Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Left Party co-leader Sahra Wagenknecht accused Merkel of ignoring Germany’s social problems and conducting a “feel-good campaign.”

Gabriel contra Merkel

The final session also featured reports by the government’s ministers. The most anticipated speaker in this section was SPD Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel who is also deputy chancellor. How far would he go in attacking the chancellor, by whose side he had begun the session chatting amiably?

Gabriel began by thanking Merkel for her “fair” cooperation. But he went on to say that the chancellor would not have been able to stake out the positions she did, sometimes over objections by fellow conservatives, without the support of the SPD. His remarks played upon the idea of Merkel as a power politician without fixed ideological commitments.

Gabriel, one of the architects of this grand coalition, said the government could be satisfied that Germany had remained “relatively stable” despite the large influx of migrants, Brexit and the election of Trump in the US. But he accused the conservatives of planning to increase defense spending at the cost of Germany’s social-welfare system.

Berlin Bundestagssitzung Gabriel am Rednerpult (picture-alliance/dpa/M. Kappeler)Gabriel spoke more as a member of the SPD than a member of the government

And he delivered an impassioned plea for Germany to invest more in helping weaker members of the European Union.

“We need to change the narrative of the EU,” Gabriel said. “We’re the economic and social winners of the European Union.”

It was a preview of the sort of conflicts between conservatives and Social Democrats Germany can expect, if the electorate votes the grand coalition out of office.



Chancellor Angela Merkel: President Donald Trump’s isolationism risks making US irrelevant, not great

The German chancellor has said there is no way US President Trump can make America “great” if he ignores the rest of the world. She added that Germany would not automatically follow the US into war against North Korea.

G20 Gipfel in Hamburg | Donald Trump & Angela Merkel (Reuters/M. Schrader)

German Chancellor Angela Merkel had some harsh words for US President Donald Trump at an event organized by the Handelsblatt newspaper on Wednesday.

Speaking with reporters, she warned that Germany would not blindly follow the United States into a war with North Korea. She added that Trump’s “America First” attitude was putting him at risk of decreasing his country’s importance on the world stage.

“An America that does not care about the rest of the world and just thinks about itself does not make for a big and great country,” said the chancellor, contradicting the US president’s insistence that his isolationist policies will make the US “win” against its rivals.

Merkel was even clearer on the subject of North Korea: Germany has no intention of being dragged into a war on the other side of the world.

‘I do not agree’ that diplomacy won’t work

“I do not agree that all diplomatic means have been exhausted,” Merkel said. She pointed out that North Korea’s neighbors, such as China, Japan and South Korea have a much more vested interest in keeping the situation with Pyongyang as peaceful as possible and that it was the job of their allies in the West to support that goal.

Watch video25:59

North Korea: Diplomacy or war?

“We can and should do no more than that,” said the chancellor, making it clear that she would “not automatically” follow the US president into a conflict with the small totalitarian state.

She also touched on Trump’s comments toward NATO, and his insistence that allies “pay their fair share” to the mutual defense organization.

While she said Germany would endeavor to reach the required 2 percent of GDP on defense spending, the money would not come from cuts to any social welfare programs – heading off criticism from her Social Democrat (SPD) rivals ahead of elections on September 24.

es/sms (dpa, Reuters)



Courtesy, DW

France’s Emmanuel Macron outlines vision for Franco-German alliance

French President Macron has said boosting cooperation with Germany was crucial to regaining the trust of European voters. His comments came ahead of his first EU leaders summit in Brussels.

Frankreich Wahlen Macron (picture alliance/AP Photo/T.Camus)

French President Emmanuel Macron on Thursday called on Germany to work alongside France in fostering a fresh approach to European politics and winning back the trust of people feeling disenfranchised by the EU.

Speaking to a number of European newspapers ahead of his first EU leader summit in Brussels on Thursday, Macron said the greatest threat facing the bloc was the propensity for lawmakers and voters to veer away from liberal policies.

Read more: Opinion: Europe, En Marche!

“The question now is: will Europe succeed in defending the deep values it brought to the world for decades, or will it be wiped out by the rise in illiberal democracies and authoritarian regimes,” he said.

Watch video01:17

Let The Reform Begin

The French president called on Germany and France to drive the necessary reforms needed to reconcile citizens with the European project. Macron’s policy roadmap would see the EU promote “greater economic and social wellbeing” and introduce tighter rules on workers and make it harder for companies to employ low-wage labor from eastern Europe.

“One country’s strength cannot feed on the weakness of others,” Macron told reporters. The French president insisted that German Chancellor Angela Merkel was in total agreement and realized the need for deeper cooperation. “Germany, which underwent a series of reforms around 15 years ago, is realizing that this isn’t viable,” he said.

Doubts remain over new eurozone ministry

One area where Macron’s vision has drawn skepticism in Berlin concerns the euro currency. The French president has called for a common eurozone budget and a democratically controlled “Euro Ministry.”

Reports last month suggested that the proposal had been rejected in Berlin by German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble.

Read more: Macron’s EU ideals meet Merkel’s mastery

However, Macron insisted on Thursday that it was the “only means of achieving more convergence within the eurozone,” and that “Germany does not it deny it.”

On Tuesday, Merkel signaled that she would be open to the idea of a eurozone budget.

“We could, of course, consider a common finance minister, if the conditions are right,” the chancellor said in a speech at the annual congress held by Germany’s largest industrial lobby, the Federation of German Industries. However, Merkel ruled out any European body taking responsibility for member states’ risks and liabilities for debt.

Watch video25:59

Victory for Macron – Challenge for Europe?



World leaders mourn loss of Helmut Kohl

World leaders are paying tribute to former German Chancellor Helmut Kohl, who has died at the age of 87. The EU’s Jean-Claude Juncker said flags would fly at half-staff in Brussels to honor a “great European.”

Watch video05:04

Angela Merkel pays tribute to Helmut Kohl

The news of Helmut Kohl’s death, which broke on Friday, triggered a wave of responses from politicians around the world, expressing sadness at the passing of the leader credited with reunifying Germany.

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said Kohl “was a great European and a great friend.”

Helmut’s death hurts me deeply. My mentor, my friend, the very essence of Europe, he will be greatly, greatly missed 

Flags at European institutions would be flying at half-staff as a tribute to the man who “filled the European house with life.”

‘A rock – both steady and strong’

Former US President George H. W. Bush, who cooperated with Kohl and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev to reunite East and West Germany at the end of the Cold War, also mourned Kohl’s death.

Bush described Kohl as “a true friend of freedom,” saying he considered him “one of the greatest leaders in post-war Europe.”


Former Chancellor Helmut Kohl has died, aged 87. Having led Germany for 16 years, he is remembered for reuniting the country as well as for making a huge political and economic contribution to the integration of Europe. (16.06.2017)

“Working closely with my very good friend […] will remain one of the greatest joys of my life. Throughout our endeavors, Helmut was a rock – both steady and strong,” Bush said Friday.

Kohl had spoken to his biographers at length about his friendship with Bush, whom he met while the American was still serving as vice president under Ronald Reagan.

Gorbachev, the last leader of the USSR, said Kohl was an “outstanding person” whose impact on world history would stand the test of time.

According to Gorbachev, the former German chancellor “would be noted in the chronicles of our time not only because of his personal qualities, but also because he found himself at the helm of his country during a time of unprecedented turmoil” including the fall of the Berlin Wall.

“In such cases, a lot depends on the people taking decisions. It was very fortunate that the leading countries, at the time, had statesmen with a sense of responsibility […] capable of reaching through the barrier of suspicion towards partnership and trust.”

German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel also praised Kohl as a “great statesman,” and lauded his legacy of helping Europe grow closer.

“A great German has died,” Gabriel said.

Watch video07:48

Helmut Kohl, German patriot and European

Merkel lauds her CDU predecessor’s foresight

German Chancellor Angela Merkel was on a diplomatic visit to Rome when the death of Kohl, a Roman Catholic, was made public. She described her mentor as a “stroke of luck” for Germany.

“Helmut Kohl decisively influenced the course of my life, too,” she said in Italy.

Her spokesman Steffen Seibert responded to the news on Twitter, saying Berlin was “deeply mourning” the death of the conservative politician.

Russian President Vladimir Putin sent his condolences to Merkel and German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, mourning the passing of “one of the patriarchs of European and global politics.”

“I was fortunate to personally meet Helmut Kohl. I was honestly amazed by his wisdom, his ability to take thought-out, far-sighted decisions even in the most complex of situations. In Russia, he will be remembered as a principled advocate of friendly relations between our countries,” Putin said.

French President Emmanuel Macron posted a German language tweet praising Kohl for paving the road to “united Germany and German-French friendship,” showing a renowned image of Kohl standing side-by-side with the late French President Francois Mitterrand. The two leaders were in Verdun marking the 70th anniversary of the start of World War I.

Wegbereiter des vereinten Deutschlands und der deutsch-französischen Freundschaft: Mit Helmut Kohl verlieren wir einen sehr großen Europäer.

President Steinmeier said Kohl was an “exceptional politician” with a “strong character.”

“He was deeply convinced that Europe was our destiny,” Steinmeier said.

Meanwhile, Merkel’s Social Democratic challenger in this year’s German federal election, Martin Schulz, said that despite their political differences, Kohl deserved “respect and recognition” for his accomplishments.

“Helmut Kohl was the chancellor of German reunification; in 1989 it was thanks to his spirit, his political courage and his leadership that the restoration of German unity was made possible,” Schulz said. “Kohl’s vision of a European Germany, which guided this great statesman in the reunification just as much as the Treaty of Maastricht, is a legacy to the German nation and to all of Europe.”

Even Germany’s Left party, the spiritual successor to the East German communists, said that Friday’s focus should be on “mourning a great European.” The party leaders hinted that Kohl’s tenure was more productive than that of his successors Gerhard Schröder and Merkel. He embodied German reunification, they said, “even if the course he set led to severe social upheaval in eastern Germany.”

‘Prepared Europe for 21st century’

Helmut Kohl remains the longest serving German chancellor, from 1982 to 1998. Kohl’s successor in the chancellery, Gerhard Schröder, praised Kohl as a German patriot.

“Even though we led a tough election battle in 1998 and differed on many political issues, I have the greatest respect for his historic efforts,” Schröder said.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu described Kohl as a “friend of Israel” who was “fully committed” to the security of the Jewish state.

British Prime Minister Theresa May called the German politician “a giant of European history.”

“We have lost the father of modern Germany,” she said in a statement.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres also mourned Kohl as a “personal friend” and praised his historic role in uniting Germany, according to his spokesman Stephane Dujarric. The UN chief served as Portuguese prime minister between 1995 and 2002.

European Council President Donald Tusk and NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg also posted their reactions online.

I will always remember Helmut Kohl. A friend and a statesman who helped reunite Europe.

Helmut Kohl was the embodiment of a united Germany in a united Europe. When the Berlin Wall fell, he rose to the occasion. A true European.

US President Donald Trump hailed the former German chancellor as a “friend and ally of the United States.”

In a statement released by the White House, Trump said: “He was not only the father of German reunification, but also an advocate for Europe and the transatlantic relationship. The world has benefited from his vision and efforts.”

Former US President Bill Clinton said Kohl’s “visionary leadership prepared Germany and all of Europe for the 21st century.”

“I will never forget walking with him through the Brandenburg Gate in 1994 for a large rally on the eastern side, and seeing genuine hope in the eyes of tens of thousands of young people,” he said. “I knew at that moment that Helmut Kohl was the man who could help them realize their dreams. History continues to prove that he delivered.”

Watch video05:21

DW studios in Berlin, Washington on Kohl’s death


Angela Merkel announces temporary halt on Afghan deportations after Kabul bombing

A deadly blast in Kabul this week reignited the debate on deporting refugees from Germany to war-torn Afghanistan. The chancellor has now temporarily halted expulsions for all except criminals and security threats.

Watch video00:20

Merkel: ‘Voluntary returns and deportation of criminals will continue’

Germany will temporarily suspend deportations to Afghanistan after a deadly bombing in Kabul this week, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Thursday.

Commenting on the massive blast that killed at least 90 people in downtown Kabul, Merkel said it was time to reassess the security situation in the country.

Federal and state governments agreed on a suspension of deportations to Afghanistan until a further security assessment by the foreign ministry, Merkel said in Berlin, adding that the suspension would most likely continue until July.

Pending the new assessment, Germany will continue to promote voluntary return and would keep deporting criminal offenders and threats to security on a case by case basis, Merkel said.

The attack was a reason to “take another proper look” at Afghanistan, with the German Foreign Ministry examining the threats “province by province.”

Read: Afghanistan: sent back to a war zone

Many German politicians have long argued that Merkel’s government was not justified in sending refugees back to Afghanistan due to safety concerns.  The argument escalated after the latest attack in the heavily guarded diplomatic heart of Kabul. In response, the German Green Party on Thursday launched a parliamentary motion to halt the deportations. The largest opposition party in the German parliament, the Left Party, derided deportations as “inhumane.”

As the news of the Wednesday attack broke, Germany was preparing to send a plane full of refugees back to Kabul. The plane was delayed, with Berlin explaining that German diplomats in Kabul were too preoccupied with the blast to deal with the returnees.

However, German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere said that the flight would be rescheduled as soon as possible.

Failed Afghan asylum seekers board a plane that will take them back to Afghanistan (picture-alliance/dpa/D. Maurer)Germany has sent several plane loads of failed asylum seekers in a controversial series of deportations

Earlier, Joachim Herrmann, interior minister in the German state of Bavaria, had told the media that it was still “feasible” to return the refugees to Afghanistan.

“The latest attack in Kabul was terrible,” he told newspapers of the Funke Mediengruppe. “But we don’t have to stop the deportations because of it.”

Read: Types of protection in Germany for asylum seekers

Watch video01:39

A would be suicide bomber shares his story

No place is safe

Merkel’s main rival in the upcoming parliamentary elections, Martin Schulz, had urged for a halt to deportations at least until the assessment is complete.

“In the light of what happened yesterday, I don’t think we should be deporting anymore,” he said, speaking at a forum organized by the German public broadcaster WDR.

A defense policy expert for Schulz’s SPD party, Rainer Arnold, agreed that deportations were “not responsible” at this moment.

“There is no place in that country where people can live safely,” he told the Passauer Neue Presse newspaper.

Between December and March, Germany deported 92 Afghan nationals on several charter flights to Kabul.

aw, dj/rt (Reuters, dpa, AFP, KNA)