Merkel rejects limits on refugees from war entering Germany
Angela Merkel, German chancellor, has rejected any limit on migrants entering Germany, saying that it would be impractical. In a television interview Wednesday, the chancellor said she was "convinced" that the country would cope.
In a television interview with ARD, the German public broadcaster, the chancellor said the introduction of a migrant limit would not be practical.
"How should that work?" Merkel told talk show host Anne Will, according to Deutsche Welle (DW). "You cannot just close the borders."
"There is no sense in my promising something that I cannot deliver," she stated, repeating an earlier assertion that Germany was able to deal with the crisis.
"We will manage," said Merkel. "I am quite strongly convinced of that."
The chancellor said that her duty was "to do everything possible and have optimism and inner certainty that this problem can be solved."
Merkel rejected criticism from Horst Seehofer, Bavarian state premier and leader of Merkel's conservative coalition partner the CSU, that Berlin had no plan. "Yes, I have a plan," she stressed.
Data Wednesday from the Bundesamt für Migration und Flüchtlinge (federal office for migration and refugees) show that there were about 577,000 asylum seekers in Germany in the first nine months of the year, a third of whom claim to be Syrian.
That number was more than double the 2014 total and Germany is expected to receive as many as one million asylum seekers this year.
In the month of September, authorities recorded 163,772 asylum seekers — 85,455 claiming to be from Syria, 19,192 from Iraq and 18,387 from Afghanistan.
The current situation in the European Union and the challenge of refugees and migration, were at the heart of Wednesday afternoon's debate between European Parliament political group leaders and both François Hollande, French president, and Angela Merkel, German chancellor.
The visit by François Hollande and Angela Merkel was "a symbol of Franco-German reconciliation and European unity," said Martin Schulz, the Parliament’s president.
Their predecessors François Mitterrand and Helmut Kohl were the last European leaders to make a joint address to the European Parliament in 1989.
“When Franco-German cooperation does not work well, the whole of Europe suffers. If, in crises, France and Germany come to a good compromise, it is beneficial for all partners and the whole of the EU,” added Schulz.
Against the temptation for EU countries "to retreat into their national shells", which condemns Europe to "powerlessness," President Hollande advocated an "outgoing Europe", able to "reaffirm the simple and clear principles of solidarity, responsibility and firmness." Firmness in the face of the "brutal violation of international law" in Ukraine. And responsibility against terrorism, "which threatens the soul of our continent." Hollande also defended the principle of solidarity with refugees.
"Faced with these challenges, I am convinced that if we do not move ahead with integration, we shall stop or slip back", said Hollande. He therefore proposed "consolidating the Euro Area" in order to "coordinate policies, promote fiscal convergence and harmonisation, investment, and tax and social policy," adding that "Institutional choices will be necessary."
"The huge number of refugees is a test of historic proportions. And to allow these people a dignified life in their homelands, is a European and a global challenge," said Chancellor Merkel.
"We must now resist the temptation to fall back into national government action. Right now we need more Europe! Germany and France are ready. Only together will we in Europe succeed in reducing the global causes of flight and expulsion. We can protect our external borders successfully only if we do something to deal with the many crises in our neighborhood — Turkey plays a key role," said Merkel, adding that "EU-wide return programmes are also important. The Dublin process, in its current form, is obsolete."
"When Kohl and Mitterrand came here representing their countries, it was a partnership of equals. But no longer. France is now diminished, trapped inside a currency. It is an irony that a project designed to contain German power has now given us a totally German dominated Europe," said Nigel Farage, for the Europe of Freedom and Direct Democracy Group. He is leader of the UK Independence Party.
"Thank you Ms Merkel for doing us the honour of coming here with Mr Vice-Chancellor of France Province," said Marine le Pen for the Europe of Nations and Freedoms Group. She is head of the Front National party in France. "I cannot call you 'President,' because you no more exercise your role than your predecessor did," she added to Hollande, before continuing "The President of the Republic is the guarantor of the French Constitution. He must not submit to a policy decided in Berlin, Brussels or Washington, but defend our sovereignty. Yet this is not what you do. On the contrary, when, in a perfectly irresponsible gesture, Chancellor Merkel says that we must welcome thousands of migrants, you applaud with both hands. When a little later, she closes her frontiers, you're still applauding."
Jean-Claude Juncker, European Commission president, greets Angela Merkel and François Hollande at the European Parliament
Strasbourg, 7 Oct, 2015