UK

Angela Merkel Explains Geneva Convention On Refugees To Donald Trump

German chancellor takes a tougher line than Theresa May.

29/01/2017 19:42 GMT | Updated 30/01/2017 01:16 GMT
Andrew Harnik/AP
Donald Trump speaks on the phone with German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Saturday.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has had to explain to Donald Trump his obligations under the Geneva Refugee Convention after the US President banned citizens from seven predominantly Muslim countries from entering the country.

Fresh details have emerged from a phone call between the two leaders on Saturday. The Associated Press reported Merkel raised his responsibilities, citing the 1951 Geneva Refugee Convention that calls on signatories to take in people fleeing war, Merkel spokesman Steffen Seibert said. He added:

“She is convinced that even the necessary, resolute fight against terrorism doesn’t justify putting people of a particular origin or particular faith under general suspicion.

“The German government will now examine what consequences the U.S. government’s measures have for German citizens with dual citizenship and, if necessary, represent their interests toward our American partners.” 

An initial joint U.S.-German statement following the call made no mention of the topic of refugees or travel bans.

Fabrizio Bensch / Reuters
German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Merkel’s tough line with the President has been contrasted to Theresa May’s two-day visit to Washington, where she attempted to draw parallels between the post-Brexit UK and the US under Trump to renew the “special relationship”.

Amid concerns over getting too close to the new President given his questionable beliefs, the Prime Minister drew further criticism for initially dodging questions over Trump’s travel and refugee ban - but finally criticising the executive order more than 12 hours later.

Christopher Furlong via Getty Images

The image of Trump and May hand-holding in the White House flashed around the world and dominated British newspaper front pages.

The awkward moment, followed by the President patting May’s hand in his, sparked suggestions that he was overstepping usual etiquette in being so tactile. 

But the PM’s spokeswoman moved to dispel all the rumours by suggesting the President was just behaving like a gentleman.

“If you watch the video, they’re walking along and there is an unseen ramp. He offered his hand, which she took as they stepped down the ramp,” she said. The spokeswoman agreed it was a “chivalrous gesture”.

May arrived back in Britain on Saturday night to a storm of fury after she failed three times to answer questions on the controversial US Presidential order during a press conference in Turkey earlier in the day.

She finally said: “The United States is responsible for United States policy on refugees. The UK is responsible for UK policy on refugees.”

A statement from Downing Street later said the PM does “not agree” with the executive order signed on Friday night and will make representations if it hits Britons.

May has since ordered Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson and Home Secretary Amber Rudd to telephone their US equivalents to “make representations” about the ban.