Merkel Defends Open Borders for Migrants amid German Rift

John O'Donnell, Reuters, February 29, 2016

German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Sunday defended her open-door policy for migrants, rejecting any limit on the number of refugees allowed into her country despite divisions within her government.

Merkel said there was no ‘Plan B’ for her aim of reducing the flow of migrants through cooperation with Turkey, efforts she said could unravel were Germany to cap the number of refugees it accepts.

“Sometimes, I also despair. Some things go too slow. There are many conflicting interests in Europe,” Merkel told state broadcaster ARD. “But it is my damn duty to do everything I can so that Europe finds a collective way.”

Merkel spelled out her motivation to keep Germany’s borders open without limits on refugees, a goal many in her own country and coalition government openly disagree with.

“There is so much violence and hardship on our doorstep,” she said. “What’s right for Germany in the long term? There, I think it is to keep Europe together and to show humanity.”

Merkel, once highly popular, has seen her ratings plummet because of her handling of the migrants issue. {snip}

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She is struggling to secure a Europe-wide plan for dealing with the migrants. She is pinning her hopes on talks between European Union leaders and Turkey on March 7 and a migration summit on March 18 and 19.

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Politicians from the state of Bavaria’s Christian Social Union, the sister party to Merkel’s CDU, have been critical of her stance.

They want a limit on the number of migrants, similar to that imposed in Austria. So too does the majority of Germans in the ARD survey.

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Merkel dismissed such a “rigid limit”, saying: “There is no point in believing that I can solve the problem through the unilateral closure of borders.”

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She said, however, that she saw nothing that would prompt her to change course. Commenting on her plan, Merkel, a trained scientist, said: “It’s all well thought through. It’s logical.”

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