EU will pass the migrant crisis test: Merkel

She’s made the remarks as the European Union moves to provide shelter for thousands of new arrivals stranded in Greece.


Angela Merkel’s standing within her own party, the Christian Democratic Union (CDU), had become so strained two months ago, there were whispers a revolt was on the cards.

Now the German Chancellor, and Time’s person of the year, has regrouped her team – commanding a standing ovation at the party’s annual conference.

The hot topic in Germany and across Europe remains the ongoing migrant and refugee crisis.

About one million people have sought asylum in Germany this year alone, prompting many conservatives – including those in the ruling party – to push for a tougher approach.

Speaking to one thousand of her delegates, Ms Merkel defended her policy – but added the country will reduce the influx.

“We want to, and will, noticeably reduce the number of refugees because that is in everybody’s interest. It is in the German interest with regard to integration into society and employment. It is in the European interest with regard to our internal state and our role in the world. It is also in the interest of the refugees themselves, because nobody who leaves home, whatever their reasons may be, does so carelessly.”

The Chancellor resisted calls to set a specific limit on the number of refugees Germany can take, arguing she would not risk making a promise she cannot keep.

Ms Merkel instead stressed the importance of finding a diplomatic solution for the crisis with the rest of Europe.

She’s described it as an “historic test” she believes Europe will pass.

“We need, as we state in our Karlsruhe declaration, a solution to the refugee crisis which is sustainable and which is durable. A solution which is in the German and European interest. A solution which can only work in European solidarity and in close cooperation with the countries of origin and the transit countries of the movement of refugees. It is a global challenge, and this global challenge has to be mastered in the right fashion to achieve a permanent and sustainable solution.”

Also feeling the strain from the ongoing flow of new arrivals is Greece.

More than a quarter of a million refugees and migrants passed through the country this year, hoping to travel to central and northern Europe.

But with Macedonia and other Balkan countries recently tightening their border controls, many Syrian, Iraqi and Afghani migrants have been stranded in Greece.

Thousands are being housed in old Olympic venues from 2004 in Athens, or are sleeping in tents pitched in city squares and parks.

European Union Commissioner for Budget and Human Resources, Kristalina Georgieva, says the EU has signed an agreement to give them more support.

“This is an act of solidarity with Greece and with the children and women and men that are seeking refuge on Greek territory fleeing the horrors of war. Greece is striving to help. From the European Commission we are providing 80 million euros from the EU budget to help with the accommodation of 20,000 refugees through a rental support initiative implemented by UNHCR on the ground, of course working with the Greek authorities.”

A further 80,000 migrants are set to be accommodated across Greece and the Balkans, mostly in heated tents.

The United Nations says such moves are vital to continue the protect the most vulnerable of people, in the most dire of situations.



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