22nd Mar 2018

Merkel stands her ground on migration

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

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.

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"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".

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