Angela Merkel’s open invitation for over a million migrants to come to Germany last year was a “colossal mistake”, a renowned economist has said.
In an interview with the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Oxford academic Sir Paul Collier said that Merkel’s actions were “morally reprehensible” and it was unlikely the huge number of new arrivals would integrate into German society.
Sir Paul, who previously worked as director of the Development Research Group at the World Bank, told the paper: “Inviting all refugees to Germany was a colossal mistake by Angela Merkel, especially since she had obviously made no preparations for the resulting influx.”
He said condemned the morality behind this invitation as “she has virtually asked people to swim to Europe.”
“That’s like Russian roulette: find a people smuggler and hope that your boat does not sink. What is there to defend?”
One of the strongest tendencies of people fleeing warzones, Sir Paul said, is to stick together in homogeneous communities. This makes assimilating them into wider society much harder than for other types of migrant.
“Amid chaos, these people want to preserve their normal lives as much as possible. So they want to stay as close as possible to people from their homelands in order to maintain a last bit of stability.”
He added that recent history also shows how difficult it will be to assimilate the huge number of new arrivals into German society.
“Germany has never been particularly good at integrating migrants,” he said. “Turkish migrants took a very long time to become part of mainstream society.”
He also pointed out that before Angela Merkel “wanted to be a saint”, she had previously stated that multiculturalism in Germany had failed.
In 2010, the German Chancellor gave a speech in which she criticised the “multikulti” concept, telling members of her party: “We kidded ourselves a while, we said: ‘They won’t stay, sometime they will be gone’, but this isn’t reality.” She added that the attempt to build a multicultural society “has failed, utterly failed.”
“I do not see why that should have suddenly changed,” Sir Paul said.
He went on the say that it is not racist to oppose the huge migrant influx, and criticised the media narrative around the subject.
“I have the impression that the public discourse in Germany works like this: Holy Merkel against the racists. I think that is defamatory. There are good reasons for scepticism.”
He lamented the “failure of mainstream parties to make a policy that appears at least halfway sensible” and said this failure had “triggered panic” in many people.
He also warned that poorer Germans had “tangible existential fears” as jobs become harder to find and the rich seem to care less about their concerns.
“There are clear signs that solidarity rapidly decreases in societies with a high proportion of immigrants,” he said.
“The miracle of the nation state is that it creates a common identity and makes solidarity possible. Too much immigration endangers this arrangement.”