Merkel Warns Germans Against Refugee Hate in New Year’s Speech

Rainer Buergin, Bloomberg, December 30, 2015

Chancellor Angela Merkel signaled she’ll use Germany’s economic power to turn a record influx of refugees to the nation’s advantage and urged citizens to reject social conflict fomented by nationalists with “hate in their hearts.”

In a New Year’s address devoted to the impact of the refugee crisis, Merkel said coping with migration will cost Germany “time, effort and money,” according to prepared remarks provided by her office on Thursday. If handled right, the challenges of today will be the opportunities of tomorrow, she said.

Merkel pressed home the point that she’s determined to treat the influx as a chance to modernize and rejuvenate Europe’s biggest economy, a stance that’s won her international accolades while eroding her poll ratings at home. The domestic fallout pushed other crises such as the unresolved conflict in eastern Ukraine and the threat of the U.K. leaving the European Union into the background in her outlook for 2016.

“Next year is about one thing in particular: our cohesion,” Merkel said. “It is important not to follow those who, with coldness or even hate in their hearts, want to claim Germanness solely for themselves and exclude others.”

Merkel’s popularity among voters declined since last summer as she insisted “we will make it” through the refugee crisis, an assertion she repeated in her speech, which will be nationally televised later Thursday and posted online subtitled in Arabic and English. {snip}

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Merkel’s poll ratings have stabilized in recent weeks. While 57 percent said in a mid-December ARD poll they’re dissatisfied with her stance on refugees, 42 percent expressed support, 3 percentage points more than when the broadcaster last asked the question in the first week of November.

 

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