Former German President Joachim Gauck attends a reception. August 2022. EPA-EFE/ANDREAS GORA / POOL


Former German president Gauck wants new limit on immigration


Joachim Gauck, former president of Germany, said there is a loss of control at the borders and he praised the Danish approach as an example of how the situation should be handled.

The dramatic scenes of thousands of arrivals on the Italian island of Lampedusa is putting migration at the centre of the debate across Europe. Gauck called for a “new determinedness” on German TV station ZDF.

He pleaded for limits on migration and said it was “not morally despicable” but “politically imperative” as the public seems to be losing their trust in politics regarding the issue.

Germany is also reeling under a migrant crisis, with more people needing shelter and its capacity to take in and deal with arrivals dwindling.

If municipalities hit the limit of their capability, Gauck said the population might lose its “wonderful solidarity”, regarding migration. He pleaded for “openness” and a “welcoming” attitude but said the public is afraid an unreasonable number of arrivals “will change their lives”.

Gauck said the current pressure is similar to that of 2015, with people feeling that politicians do not understand their fears. They need control and security, he said, adding that without such the migrant crisis “could lead to a shift further to the Right”.

To prevent this, he advocated limiting immigration. “We must explore leeways that initially seem unsympathetic to us because they sound inhumane,” he said. He added that the various political forces must “distance themselves from their wishful thinking and develop in the democratic centre what we really want”.

He referred to the policies of the Social Democrats in Denmark, who have a strict immigration policy.

Gauck emphasised that discussions about migration should take place in the centre of society, not just “on the far Right”.

He noted that limiting migration may initially appear a restriction of the rights of immigrants but called for more courage and less “fear of a policy that sounds brutal, such as isolation or containment”.