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From the ‘Open door’ policy to the EU-Turkey deal 1

From the ‘Open door’ policy to the EU-Turkey deal

Media framings of German policy changes during the EU refugee ‘crisis’

This article explores Angela Merkel’s decision to open Germany’s borders to refugees in September 2015 and her support for the EU-Turkey statement in March 2016. While the first policy offered relief to refugees, the second was designed to significantly reduce the number of refugees coming to Europe. Besides the seemingly contradictory rationale behind these two foreign policy decisions, the role that domestic media played in Merkel’s decision to open the borders was remarkable. The connection between media reports and public opinion has long been established, whereas the connection between foreign policy and the media is more recent. However, the link between all three and how they operate together is yet to be studied. By exploring these connections, we show how foreign policy decisions can be accepted by locals within a language context that fosters identification with outsiders. Similarly, a shift in the discourse, which contributed to the perception of a divergence of interests between the local population and the refugees, helps to understand the subsequent change in foreign policy. In short, we show how this shift provides an insight into the parallels between domestic media discourses, public opinion and foreign policy decisions. We apply deductive qualitative content analysis to demonstrate this connection.

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