Riot police separate people holding a German flag and on their way to attend an anti-immigration demonstration organised by right wing movement Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamisation of the West (PEGIDA) and opponents of PEGIDA in Dresden, Germany, on October 20, 2015.
After intense scrutiny and a wide debate across Europe on the increasing number of refugees coming to the continent, German Chancellor Angela Merkel has admitted that she made some mistakes in the open door policy that welcomed record numbers of migrants.
“We didn’t embrace the problem in an appropriate way. That goes as well for protecting the external border of the Schengen area,” Merkel said in an interview, according to Breitbart News, on Thursday.
“In Germany we ignored the problem for too long and blocked out the need to find a pan-European solution,” she added.
Merkel also said that she “cannot deny” that Germany had become complacent after years of welcoming migrants from other nations.
Politico noted that the German leader also made a promise that the enforcement of law will be tightened, and refugees who do not qualify for asylum in the country will be returned home.
(PHOTO: REUTERS/FABIAN BIMMER)
Migrants from Syria sit in their tent in a refugee camp in Celle, Lower-Saxony, Germany, October 15, 2015. With the approach of winter, authorities are scrambling to find warm places to stay for the thousands of refugees streaming into Germany every day. In desperation, they have turned to sports halls, youth hostels and empty office buildings. But as these options dry up, tent cities have become the fall-back plan: despite falling temperatures, a survey by German newspaper Die Welt showed at least 42,000 refugees were still living in tents.
Still, she expressed confidence that migrants who have won legal right of asylum in Germany will be able to integrate into society.
Merkel has repeatedly stuck to the motto “we can do this,” when it comes to providing a safe place to stay for the 1.1 million refugees who came to Germany in 2015, and many others that have continued to arrive in 2016. But several high-profile incidents have sparked unrest and protest among the German people.
Far-right movements such a PEGIDA have led campaigns against Germany’s welcome of refugees, blaming them for an increase of crime in several cities.
“People are very unhappy with her refugee policies,” said Helmut Schroeder, a 61-year-old unemployed locksmith in Greifswald. “It’s astonishing that one woman could take such a momentous decision on her own. We are not a monarchy.”
Other commentators, such as Stefani Weiss, director and expert on European politics at Bertelsmann Stiftung, an independent, nonprofit German foundation, told The Christian Post back in January that Germany cannot handle Europe’s refugee crisis on its own.
“The member states need to accept that this is a European problem, and that it needs a European solution. We have to be more aware of the risks which might be involved regarding our security and safety, but we shouldn’t put refugees and criminals into one basket,” Weiss told CP.
(PHOTO: REUTERS/MICHAELA REHLE)
Syrian migrants Zake Khalil (3rdR), his wife Nagwa (R) and their four children Joan, Torin, Ellen and newborn Hevin arrive at the Austrian-German border in Achleiten near Passau, Germany, October 27, 2015. The premier of the state of Bavaria Premier Horst Seehofer criticised Austria on Tuesday for failing to coordinate the flow of migrants into southern Germany even as he renewed a challenge to Chancellor Angela Merkel over her management of the refugee crisis. Germany is taking in more migrants than any other EU state. It expects 800,000 to 1 million people, many from war zones in the Middle East, Africa and Afghanistan, to arrive this year.
Reuters reported that it’s not yet clear whether Merkel will decide to run for a fourth term in 2017, as she faces declining popularity ratings while regional elections in September could deliver big gains for her political opponents.
An opinion poll on Thursday reportedly showed that Merkel’s approval rating has fallen to 45 percent, which is the lowest point in five years.
Oxford historian and author Timothy Garton Ash predicted that Merkel might be on her way out of power, despite the Chancellor promising the German people that there will not be as many refugees admitted in 2016 as last year.
“Merkel is Europe’s indispensable leader, because of the position of Germany, but also her standing and experience as a leader,” Ash offered.
“But there is a universal law in politics that says 10 years is enough. When leaders stay longer they start making mistakes. It happened to De Gaulle, Kohl, Thatcher and to Erdogan and Putin. Now it seems to be happening to the pragmatic, cautious Angela Merkel.”
(PHOTO: REUTERS/WOLFGANG RATTAY)
Supporters of anti-immigration right-wing movement PEGIDA (Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamisation of the West) take part in in demonstration rally, in reaction to mass assaults on women on New Year’s Eve, in Cologne, Germany, January 9, 2016.