Tuesday 20 February 2018

'We will not fail in historic task to help asylum seekers' - Merkel

Chancellor Angela Merkel passes photographers as she arrives
for a press conference in Berlin. Photo: Getty
Chancellor Angela Merkel passes photographers as she arrives for a press conference in Berlin. Photo: Getty

Justin Huggler

Angela Merkel has refused to back down on her open-door refugee policy after a week of violence in Germany that included three attacks by asylum seekers.

Ms Merkel said yesterday that Germany was "at war" with Isil after the terror group had claimed responsibility for a suicide bombing and an axe attack on a train in Bavaria.

But she insisted that Germany would not fail in its "historic task" of integrating the more than a million asylum seekers who arrived last year.

"The terrorists want us to lose sight of what is important to us," she said. "They want to undermine our sense of community, our openness and our willingness to help people in need. We firmly reject this."

Mrs Merkel broke off her summer holiday to return to Berlin and address concerns after four violent attacks in Bavaria over seven days.

A German-born teenager of Iranian descent shot dead nine people in Munich and a Syrian asylum seeker murdered a Polish woman in an apparent crime of passion.

However, public concern has focused on two terror attacks by asylum seekers. An Afghan injured five people in an axe attack on a train, while a Syrian killed himself and injured 15 others in a suicide bombing.


"The fact that two men who came to us as refugees are responsible mocked the country that took them in," said the German chancellor, "and it mocks the many other refugees who truly seek protection from war and violence with us, who want to live peacefully."

Mrs Merkel has come under pressure over her refugee policy in the wake of the attacks, but she returned to her defiant slogan of last summer's migrant crisis, "We can do it."

In reality, however, Mrs Merkel has quietly reversed her 'open-door' policy.

The EU's migrant deal with Turkey, which she negotiated, and the closure of the Balkan route have slowed to a trickle the number of asylum seekers arriving in Germany.

Ms Merkel unveiled a nine-point plan to combat terrorism, including better monitoring of potential suspects and more intelligence co-operation with the US and European partners.

It also included a commitment to speed up deportation of rejected asylum seekers. But this is unlikely to silence critics.

"Islamist terrorism has unfortunately arrived in Bavaria," said Joachim Herrmann, the Bavarian interior minister.

He added: "We are awaiting urgent action from the federal government and Europe - now is the time to act." (© Daily Telegraph, London)


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