28th Oct 2016

Merkel: Attacks won't change refugee policy

  • "I am convinced today as I was before that we can do it," Merkel said (Photo:

German chancellor Angela Merkel on Thursday (28 July) rejected calls to change her refugee policies after a recent series of attacks committed by asylum seekers in Germany.

The attackers "shame the country that welcomed them" as well as all the refugees who need protection, she said at a press conference in Berlin.

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She said they wanted to "undermine our sense of community, our openness and our willingness to help people in need".

"We firmly reject this,” she said, adding that Germany would "stick to [its] principles".

Merkel interrupted her holidays to call the press conference in the wake of several attacks that left 10 people dead and more than 40 injured since 18 July.

After a young Afghan man attacked passengers on a train with an axe, a Syrian man killed a woman with a machette and another Syrian man blew himself up in front of a restaurant. In Munich, a German-Iranian born in Germany shot nine people in a fast-food restaurant.

These attacks, as well as the recent ones in France and Turkey, have broken a "taboo of civilisation", because they "happened in places where any of us could have been," Merkel said.

But she refused to link them to her refugee policies

"It doesn't matter whether [the attackers] arrived before or after 4 September," she added, referring to the day last year when she opened Germany's border to refugees.

She said that the attacks, among which two have been claimed by the Islamic State group (IS), were aimed at sowing hatred and fear between cultures and religions.

"We stand decisively against that," she said.

She said her government would do all that is "humanly possible to guarantee freedom and security", but added that is was "not the day" to present new measures against terrorism.

She noted that attackers were not known by police and that an "early alarm system" would need to be established.

Using once again the expression "wir schaffen das" (meaning "we can do it"), which she has used repeatedly since last year, Merkel assured that Germany would not change course.

"I am convinced today as I was before that we can do it," she said, adding that Germany had an "historical mission, an historical challenge in a time of globalisation".

Disappointed by Europe's response

Sticking to her positions, she added that Europe's contribution to solving the refugee crisis was "not yet sufficient".

She in particular noted that the system to share asylum seekers between member states was "not working well".

"I am disappointed by the unwillingness of some in Europe to accept refugees," she said.

Merkel also warned Turkey, a crucial ally in the management of the refugee crisis, against a large-scale crackdown after a failed coup earlier this month.

Mass arrests in the judiciary, army, university and media were a "worrying development", she said, adding that "the principle of proportionality may not always be at the center" of actions by Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

"It is very important to me that the principle of proportionality must be guaranteed in all circumstances," she said.

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