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01.09.2015

17:12 Uhr

Delayed Response

Refugee Crisis Turns Political for Merkel

Von Siobhán Dowling, Allison Williams and Kevin O'Brien

The German chancellor on Monday condemned right-wing violence surrounding refugees, but some voters wondered why it has taken her so long. With some towns struggling under the influx, the crisis has morphed into a political challenge.

Reuters

Angela Merkel

On Monday, German chancellor Angela Merkel spoke to a packed room of journalists at her annual summer press conference in Berlin. Only weeks ago, Greece had dominated the chancellor’s agenda. But Greece and its bailout drama are ancient history in Europe’s hyperspeed summer of crisis management. As autumn began, Germany’s teflon chancellor faced a much bigger and more politically dangerous crisis — that of refugees.

About 800,000 asylum seekers are expected to pour into Europe’s largest economy this year, and the way Ms. Merkel handles the crisis may end up defining her legacy and her likely bid for reelection next year.

Already, the rapid influx of men, women and children from Syria, Iraq, the Balkans and Africa — which has appeared to catch everyone in Germany and the rest of Europe by surprise — could morph into a political liability for those in power, including Ms. Merkel.

After weeks of being criticized for dilly-dallying and failing to show leadership, Ms. Merkel responded on Monday in uncharacteristically firm and decisive fashion, pledging assistance, less bureaucracy and a can-do attitude.“We stand before a huge national challenge. That will be a central challenge not only for days or months but for a long period of time,” she said.

The chancellor said Germany would rush through legislation to address the crisis, making it easier to weed out those ineligible for asylum while boosting funding to states and local government to provide more shelter for refugees.

She also called on the other E.U. countries to step up and take their fair share of refugees, a call that so far has fallen largely on deaf ears. “If Europe fails on the question of refugees, if this close link with universal civil rights is broken, then it won’t be the Europe we wished for,” she said.

Her steely resolve was a change from recent weeks, when the chancellor was criticized for not getting ahead of an issue that has rapidly become the most important for her country, and for Europe.

Germany is facing an unprecedented crisis, Ms. Merkel said, equating the challenge of managing the refugees to what Germans faced a quarter century ago during reunification.

Every day thousands of weary people arrive in the country by train, foot and in trucks driven by people smugglers. Reception centers are struggling to keep up with dealing with all of them, saying they lack resources and personnel.

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Kommentare (5)

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Herr Sebastian Sportmann

01.09.2015, 17:35 Uhr

The comments for this discussion will be very short. I would be astonished if the same agitators, who coment on the same articles, which are published in german, are able to use another language instaet of their own.

Herr Benjamin Fricke

01.09.2015, 17:59 Uhr

Mr. Sportman: Not everyone who is criticizing this mass immigration is an agitator. The comment you are making here is arrogant and snobby. It is mostly the German press which tries to brand people who do not appreciate this immigration, for whatever reason, as Nazis. It is our failed political class, our hypocrisy and failed development aid as well as this god forsaken euro ideology that has brought Europe thus far. If articles were written in German as they are found in many English speaking sources without criminalizing every German who holds a different opinion, we would be much farther. After all, most Germans still speak German and should continue doing so! And yes many people speak English who are against this flood of people, because they have lived, studied or worked abroad and know how ridiculous this lovey dovey multi cultural teddy bear thinking is. Ask the Saudis, Quataris how much they enjoy the refugees. As a side note: "German" is always capitalized in the English language ;-)

Herr Sebastian Sportmann

01.09.2015, 18:06 Uhr

Yes, not just anyone. But it´s nice too see how long it takes too find a comment here.

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