Wednesday

23rd Oct 2019

Merkel stands her ground on migration

  • Merkel (r) with Greek PM Tsipras: The EU cannot "allow Greece to plunge into chaos". (Photo: ec.europa.eu)

German chancellor Angela Merkel once again on Sunday (28 February) defended her migration policy, vowed to help Greece and fight to find a European solution to the refugee crisis.

"It's my damn duty and obligation to do everything possible for Europe to find a united path," she said in a combative interview on German public TV ARD.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

"I have no plan B," she said, ruling out closing German borders to stop migrants coming to the country.

"There is no point in believing that I can solve the problem through the unilateral closure of borders," she said.

Merkel appeared in one of Germany's main talk shows a few days after Austria, together with Western Balkan countries, decided to cap the number of migrants allowed to cross their borders, a space stretching from Greece to central Europe.

As a result, up to 70,000 refugees could be left stranded in Greece, according to the Greek migration minister. The EU Commission warned of a potential humanitarian crisis.

"This is exactly what I fear: when someone defines his border and the other has to suffer. That is not my Europe," Merkel said.

'Show humanity'

Austria's "unilateral" decision deprived the EU of the time to prepare for the situation, she said.

She assured that the EU "could have waited until the regular [EU] summit on 18 March", to find a common solution, arrange the distribution of refugees and build accommodation in Greece.

She deplored that Greece "is now left alone with its problems" and said she could "not allow that".

"Do you seriously believe that all the euro states that last year fought all the way to keep Greece in the eurozone - and we were the strictest - can one year later allow Greece to plunge into chaos?" she asked.

Merkel said that her main option to solve the crisis remained working with Turkey to reduce the number of migrants coming to Europe. If the EU-Turkey summit on 7 March brings no results, she said she "will continue to work" to find a solution at the following EU summit on 18 March.

Two weeks ahead of regional elections where her policies will be put to the test, the German chancellor reaffirmed that her job was to "solve problems so that we can stand by our values".

She rejected recent violence against refugees in Germany as "repulsive" and "unjustifiable".

What was "right for Germany" at the moment, she said, was "to keep Europe together and to show humanity".

EU at breaking point over migration crisis

EU divisions over the migrant crisis reached a new low on Thursday, with Greece saying that it won’t become “Europe’s Lebanon” and accusing Austria of “19th century attitudes.”

Over 130,000 migrants missing in Germany

More than 130,000 asylum seekers have arrived at their designated housing, making 13 percent of people seeking protection in Germany unaccounted for.

Migrant tensions flare at Macedonian-Greek border

The bottleneck situation with more than 22,000 stuck in Greece because of tighter border restriction further north created tensions on Monday, as frustrated asylum seekers tried to force themselves into Macedonia.

Local elections to test Merkel on refugees

Three German states will hold elections on Sunday. Regional themes are overshadowed by the refugee crisis, and a breakthrough for anti-immigration party AfD looms.

News in Brief

  1. MEPs criticise Juncker over climate and tax policies
  2. Juncker defends commission record on Greek crisis
  3. Croatian MEP criticises EU parliament for trusting Šuica
  4. Brexit is waste of time and energy, says Juncker
  5. Abortion and same-sex marriage become legal in Northern Ireland
  6. Germany wants internationally controlled zone in Syria
  7. EU parliament refuses to debate Catalonia
  8. Four businessmen charged in Slovak journalist murder

Opinion

Europe's refugee policy is test of its true 'way of life'

As ex-national leaders, we know it's not easy to withstand public pressures and put collective interests ahead of domestic concerns. But without strong institutional leadership, EU values themselves risk ringing hollow, not least to those seeking protection on Europe's shores.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDAUNESDA welcomes Nicholas Hodac as new Director General
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersBrussels welcomes Nordic culture
  3. UNESDAUNESDA appoints Nicholas Hodac as Director General
  4. UNESDASoft drinks industry co-signs Circular Plastics Alliance Declaration
  5. FEANIEngineers Europe Advisory Group: Building the engineers of the future
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNew programme studies infectious diseases and antibiotic resistance
  7. UNESDAUNESDA reduces added sugars 11.9% between 2015-2017
  8. International Partnership for Human RightsEU-Uzbekistan Human Rights Dialogue: EU to raise key fundamental rights issues
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersNo evidence that social media are harmful to young people
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersCanada to host the joint Nordic cultural initiative 2021
  11. Vote for the EU Sutainable Energy AwardsCast your vote for your favourite EUSEW Award finalist. You choose the winner of 2019 Citizen’s Award.
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersEducation gets refugees into work

Latest News

  1. EU open to imminent Brexit extension, Tusk indicates
  2. EU centrists ally with far right on migrant rescues
  3. MPs vote on Johnson's latest push for Brexit deal
  4. Macron breaks Balkans promise in quest for EU dominance
  5. Snap elections in North Macedonia after EU rejection
  6. UK opposition MPs attack new Brexit deal
  7. Deep divisions on display over post-Brexit EU budget
  8. Juncker: 'Historic mistake' against Balkan EU hopefuls

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us