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German Chancellor Angela Merkel Blasts EU Member States That Turn Their Back on Asylum Seekers

Migrant-crisis-Angela-Merkel-606765Expressing her frustration with EU member states that refuse to share the burden of accepting refugees, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said history will judge Europe harshly if it fails to follow international law regarding asylum seekers.
Chancellor Merkel’s blunt criticism of European Union member states such as Hungary and Slovakia reflects both her concerns over the future of Europe as well as the fate of refugees, and contrasted the European response to countries such as Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey that have each taken in millions of Syrian refugees.
“Five hundred million Europeans today probably haven’t taken in a million Syrians,” Merkel said on a panel late Tuesday in Stuttgart, Germany, adding that the EU can’t afford to isolate itself from the crisis. “I think that this won’t go well for us historically. I’m very sure of that.”
Nonetheless, Chancellor Merkel’s views on refugees do not seem to be extremely popular inside Germany. With about 1 million asylum seekers having already entered Germany last year, many Germans are questioning the Chancellor’s refugee policy and her popularity is sliding for the first time in many years.
Ms. Merkel will face the first major electoral test of her stance on refugees this coming Sunday, when three German states representing about 20 percent of the population hold regional ballots. Polls suggest across-the-board losses for Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union party and a surge in support for the Alternative for Germany party, which campaigns against immigration.
Ms. Merkel was in Stuttgart less than a day after she pushed for an EU deal with Turkey to halt the flow of migrants.
As she spoke, the government of Slovenia announced that it would start demanding passports and visas from midnight for all people seeking to cross into the passport-free Schengen area, as the western Balkan route from Greece to northern Europe was effectively closed to migrants. Serbia’s Interior Ministry also said it would increase border controls with Bulgaria and the Republic of Macedonia, since Serbia can’t become “a collection center for refugees.”
“I have to tell you quite honestly, there will be a lot to talk about” the topic at next week’s summit, Merkel said. “If some countries such as Hungary and Slovakia say ‘zero – zero; we have no obligation here; we’re not responsible for sheltering; there’s no civil war in front of our door; the Syrians have to look to their neighborhood with Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey.’ That’s a position that is not mine.”
[Bloomberg; Kathimerini]

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