Far-right German politicians will travel to Syria on Monday in an attempt to show that the war-torn country can be classified as a “safe country of origin” according to German public broadcasters WDR and NDR.
This is the second time since last March that politicians from Germany’s opposition far-right party Alternative for Germany (AfD) have traveled to Syria. Their goal is to show that returning refugees to Syria will soon be possible since the country is safe, according to them. The report says AfD parliamentarian Udo Hemmelgarn confirmed the trip was taking place.
Four AfD representatives from the German parliament will reportedly fly to Damascus on Monday, where they will meet representatives of President Bashar Assad’s government.
In 2018, following their first trip to Syria, AfD lawmakers pushed for the “voluntary repatriation of Syrians” rather than deportation. Although they managed to garner support from several members of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s center-right CDU party, left-wing parties refused to back the policy.
What do the AfD hope to achieve?
Like on their previous trip, the representatives plan to take pictures to demonstrate a seemingly peaceful country and use them in a media campaign to push for deportation of Syrian refugees back to their country of origin.
The so-called “remigration” policy has been a key part of AfD rhetoric since their formation. It is a term often employed by far-right groups as it implies the return of migrants to their respective ethnic community, not necessarily a specific state or region.
The politicians plan to begin the campaign on Friday in the German parliament, where they will introduce bills that would seek to “normalize” Germany’s relationship with Assad’s government, which according to the AfD, and in contrast with EU policy, should be recognized as the “sole legitimate representative of the Syrian people.”
The AfD also wants Germany to acknowledge Russia’s influence in Syria and increase cooperation with Russia there.