Angela Merkel faces plunging poll numbers and rising violence in Germany
But she launched a passionate defence of her migrant open door policy
The German Chancellor promised to reduce numbers entering the country
If they were not she warned the country would eventually be ‘overwhelmed’
Her comments came at a crucial speech before her political party congress
German Chancellor Angela Merkel gave the most vital speech of her political career today as she defended her open-door asylum policies while pledging to reduce the numbers pouring into Germany.
Mindful of her plunging poll numbers and a backdrop of rising violence, she told the party faithful at the annual congress of her CDU conservative party: ‘We want to significantly reduce the number of refugees. Otherwise Germany will be overwhelmed in the long term.’
At first she said opening the borders to tens of thousands of refugees in appalling conditions in Hungary was ‘a humanitarian gesture, no more and no less’.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel told her party faithful Germany would be ‘overwhelmed in the long run’ unless the numbers of refugees entering the country were significantly reduced
Mrs Merkel, the Chancellor and leader of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU), acknowledges applause after addressing her party congress at its annual meeting in Karlsruhe
‘It was a humane imperative as Europe had to deal with the largest refugee movement since World War Two.’
The chancellor, into her third term as leader of Europe’s most powerful economy, secured the support of her cabinet before her speech to stave off the possibility of concert hall scenes.
But she was determined neither to perform a total U-turn or appear arrogant in her belief that a million-plus refugees are a good thing for her country.
After recapping on a year of tumult – the euro crisis, the Charlie Hebdo massacre in Paris, the ISIS bloodbath in the same city in November, the Germanwings air disaster and the sanctions against Russia among them – she turned to the topic that all Germans are discussing.
‘It is a historic test for Europe, ‘ she added, but was convinced that Europe will pass this test, ‘even if Europe is often maddening,’ she said with a comment on what she perceives is a lack of solidarity of among the states making up the EU.
‘The war in Syria, the barrel bombs of Assad, the spread of IS in Iraq and Syria, the fact that Libya has no functioning Government and the situation in Afghanistan: all this comes to our front door. I want it so that Europe stands up to this test.’
Mrs Merkel, who is a long time opponent of multi-culturalism, used the occasion to restate that view, saying: ‘Multi-Kulti leads to parallel societies and is a living lie. Integration is the opposite.’
The chancellor received spontaneous applause when she said: ‘There are two ways to respond to this development – foreclosure or take a chance.’
Foreclosure, she said, is ‘no reasonable option in the 21st century’.
Mrs Merkel received a standing ovation for comments on the migration crisis, which comes just days after she was named Time’s Person of the Year for her attempts to address the problem
She asked: ‘What will change in Germany? Do we even want change? What effects have the other cultures on us? Will we be still the Germany that we know?’
These and other questions were behind the skepticism of people, she said.
Mrs Merkel restated her belief that the causes of the mass flight of people must be addressed on the international stage.
Turkey has a ‘key’ role here. Trafficking in human beings and smuggling must be fought with its aid, she said.
Germany rose from the rubble of the Second World War to build the economic miracle, she said, and now ‘the task we have to tackle is with the many, many refugees and this task is huge’.