Wednesday 21 March 2018

Germany will reduce migrant influx, Angela Merkel tells party

German Chancellor Angela Merkel speaks during a party convention of the Christian Democrats in Karlsruhe, Germany
German Chancellor Angela Merkel speaks during a party convention of the Christian Democrats in Karlsruhe, Germany

Chancellor Angela Merkel has told her conservative party that Germany will reduce the migrant influx, saying she is still confident that Europe will pass the "historical test" it faces.

Germany has seen about a million migrants arrive this year.

Ms Merkel has insisted that "we will manage it", but some in her conservative bloc have urged a tougher approach.

Ms Merkel told a congress of her Christian Democratic Union on Monday that her decision in early September to let in migrants stranded in Hungary was "a humanitarian imperative".

While sticking to her approach, Ms Merkel underscored her aim of getting migrant numbers down.

She said: "We want to, and will, appreciably reduce the number of refugees, because it's in everyone's interest."

Ms Merkel has resisted calls to set a specific limit on the number of refugees Germany can take, arguing that she would risk making a promise she cannot keep.

She stresses instead the importance of a diplomatic solution with the rest of Europe and with Turkey, which is hosting as many as 2.2 million Syrian refugees.

Ahead of the conference, CDU leaders made some rhetorical concessions to members worried about Germany's ability to absorb more newcomers - without pledging specific further action.

The party's motion now says it is determined to reduce the refugee influx through "effective measures," since "a continuation of the current influx would in the long term overburden the state and society".

That was enough to persuade the party's youth wing to withdraw its motion calling for a limit on refugee numbers.

Ms Merkel noted moves by her government to make it easier to send home people from Balkan countries such as Albania and Kosovo, and underlined officials' insistence there are "safe areas" in Afghanistan that Germany can send some Afghan refugees back to.

She has made little headway in persuading other European countries to share the refugee burden but insisted that "Europe so far has always passed its tests" in the end.

"We insist on European solidarity," she said. "I know that the European wheels grind slowly, but we will get them grinding."

Press Association

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