Today, more people are fleeing their countries and seeking protection than at any other time since the end of World War II. Many of them are coming to Europe and Germany. A great number of German citizens have shown extraordinary willingness to help. But there is also a different reality: On an almost daily basis, refugee shelters are being torched and refugees or their advocates attacked. As thousands of refugees are drowning in the Mediterranean while trying to make their way to Europe, many European governments are sealing their borders. Those who do manage to reach Europe often face months-long journeys in appalling conditions.
Whilst private citizens have shown impressive levels of commitment, the wider European picture is nothing short of disillusioning. Europe appears divided, helpless, petty. Our continent is betraying its values.
There is no denying that the influx of refugees presents a big challenge for our societies. But who could be better placed to deal with this challenge than us, one of the most peaceful and wealthy regions in the world? A region grounded in values like freedom and justice. A region that finds strength in diversity.
Our Europe has reached a crossroads. How do we want to live? Who do we want to be? Do we want to be the ones hiding behind razor wire? Do we want to be the ones who make their attitudes conditional on current sensitivities and cash flows? Or do we want to be the ones defending their values, no matter what? The ones who stand firm for humanity and human rights?
Twenty-six years after the fall of the Berlin wall, people all over Germany have responded to the plight of refugees by setting a pragmatic and committed example of what it means to live in a peaceful, liberal and equitable society.
We must not turn our backs on these values now. We have to and indeed want to keep growing with these challenges, not least in Germany: Instead of introducing new deterrents in the form of tighter residence, asylum and social laws, we need to facilitate integration and participation, meet basic needs and provide access to education and employment.
The time has come to make a public commitment. We, the signatories, commit to