As part of a report on Syrian and Ukrainian refugees arriving in Berlin, Asharq Al-Awsat spoke to Jian Omar, of Syrian origin, who won the general elections in Germany in September with the Green party.
The young Syrian Kurd, born in Qamishli in 1985, came to Germany as a student. In 2012, he became a refugee, after the Syrian embassy refused to renew his passport because of his political activism against the regime in Damascus.
He has been in Berlin for more than ten years, and today he is a member of its parliament, and the spokesman for the Green party on issues of immigration, asylum and naturalization.
Omar said that German society was very receptive to Ukrainian emigration. He noted that in the early days of the war, he had seen a number of Germans offering the refugees accommodation in their homes while waiting to find a permanent residence.
He also stressed that some German families carried aid to receive those fleeing the Russian war.
According to the parliamentarian, the European Union’s decision to receive Ukrainians, according to the criteria of mass immigration from war countries, allowed the granting of residency to refugees, in addition to other facilitations.
In this regard, he noted that the European decision was taken unanimously, while some countries, including Poland and Hungary, opposed this mechanism when it was raised to address the influx of Syrian refugees in 2015.
Omar told Asharq Al-Awsat that while some social media cited criticism over a preference for European refugees over those coming from the Middle East, he noted that Syrian and Ukrainian activists organized joint demonstrations against the war and Russia’s engagement in Syria and Ukraine.
He pointed to the Europeans’ concern about the return of war to their continent, and to the divisions in public opinion about the extent to which they can go to arm Ukraine without directly engaging in the conflict.