Germany has come under pressure for funding migrant sea “rescues,” including from Elon Musk, but the Greens in government are nevertheless doubling down on their support for the controversial operations.
After German Green Party leader Ricarda Lang defended state funding for the NGO boats operating in the Mediterranean, the German Foreign Ministry led by Annalena Baerbock, also of the Greens, confirmed that Germany would continue taxpayer support.
The issue of German taxpayers funding such operations made international headlines after Tesla and X owner Elon Musk criticized the actions of the German government in a post on the platform.
The post at the end of September garnered over 70 million views and prompted Baerbock’s Foreign Ministry to respond, writing: “Yes. And it’s called saving lives.” Musk responded in turn, writing: “So you’re actually proud of it. Interesting. Frankly, doubt that a majority of the German public supports this. Have you run a poll? Surely, it is a violation of the sovereignty of Italy for Germany to transport vast numbers of illegal migrants to Italian soil? Has invasion vibes…”
With the vast majority of Germans, specifically 64 percent, saying in polls that they want fewer migrants in the country and that migrants bring more disadvantages than advantages, the topic of migration has become an increasingly unavoidable theme in the German political debate. The anti-immigration Alternative for Germany continues to hit new record highs in the polls, which also show that migration is the top issue for German voters.
In regard to Italy’s position, Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni officially wrote a letter of complaint to Social-Democrat (SPD) Chancellor Olaf Scholz about the funding of the NGO boats. In the letter, she argued if the NGO boat is flying a country’s flag, then that country should take them in.
Italy has long criticized Germany’s support for the boats, which have been accused of “ferrying” illegal migrants by picking them up off the coast of North Africa and transporting them to Europe. Their presence has also allegedly encouraged some human smugglers to take more chances with unsafe boats in the hopes that if anything goes wrong, the NGO boats will be present to “rescue” those on board. Many of these migrants entering Italy eventually make their way to Germany.
Germany’s left won’t cut funding
Scholz has recently spoken in a manner that appeared to be an effort to distance himself from the taxpayer-funded pro-migrant NGO boats without outright canceling their funding.
At the EU summit in Granada, he said that German aid had been approved by the German parliament, the Bundestag, and not by the federal government: “I didn’t make the request,” he noted.
Scholz, who is known to avoid answering controversial questions, was then asked what his personal opinion was on the matter. Scholz replied, “That’s the opinion I have, that I didn’t make the request.”
However, Scholz did not make any claims that the German government would stop funding such projects.
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Green Party leader Lang, who spoke at the state party conference of the Greens in Baden-Württemberg in Weingarten, stated that she fully backed the German government’s NGO funding, saying it was a “civilizing achievement” and that she is “damn grateful for that.”
Germany’s Foreign Ministry announced it will clearly fund these NGOs over the coming years, writing: “Funding for sea rescue is also planned for the years 2024 to 2026 with commitment appropriations from the Bundestag. We will implement these.”