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Donald Trump slams Angela Merkel’s refugee policy

US President-elect Donald Trump labeled German Chancellor Angela Merkel's stance on refugees a "catastrophic mistake." He said the policy would lead to even more countries leaving the European Union after Britain. President-elect Trump heavily criticized Chancellor Merkel's open-door policy on refugees in a joint interview published on Sunday with German tabloid newspaper "Bild" and British newspaper "The Times of London." "I think she made one very catastrophic mistake and that was taking all of these illegals, you know, taking all of the people from wherever they come from,” he said. "And nobody even knows where they come from. So I think she made a catastrophic mistake, very bad mistake.” In 2015 about 900,000 migrants, many coming from Syria, entered Germany after Merkel opened the country's doors, famously saying "we can do this." The bilionaire businessman said Germany had "got a clear impression" of the consequences of her policy from a Berlin terror attack that killed 12 people in December. Trump insisted he had "great ­respect” for Merkel and would start his presidency trusting the "fantastic leader," but that his trust might not last long. Brexit deal Trump promised he would offer the United Kingdom a trade deal within weeks of taking office to help make Brexit a "great thing”. "We're going to work very hard to get it done quickly and done properly. Good for both sides,” Trump said. "I will be meeting with [British Prime Minister Theresa May]. She's requesting a meeting and we'll have a meeting right after I get into the White House and it'll be, I think we're going to get something done very quickly.” May said on Saturday she would lead the country towards a "hard Brexit." Others will leave Trump warned that other countries in the 28-member EU would follow suit after Brexit because of immigration. "I think it's very tough,” he said. "People, countries want their own identity and the UK wanted its own identity.” "If refugees keep pouring into different parts of Europe ... I think it's going to be very hard to keep it together because people are angry about it." He said the mass arrivals in 2015 were "the last drop that made the barrel overflow" in convincing British voters to back leaving the bloc in a June 24 referendum. "If they hadn't been forced to take in all of the refugees, so many, with all the problems that it... entails, I think that you wouldn't have a Brexit. This was the final straw that broke the camel's back." He further said the European Union had become "a vehicle for Germany”. Nato obsolete Trump described the NATO alliance as an "obsolete" organization. "I said a long time ago that NATO had problems. Number one it was obsolete, because it was designed many, many years ago," he said. He insisted that NATO remained "very important to me," but that some NATO allies weren't paying enough. "We're supposed to protect countries. But a lot of these countries aren't paying what they're supposed to be paying, which I think is very unfair to the United States." "With that being said, NATO is very important to me. There's five countries that are paying what they're supposed to. Five. It's not much," he added. US contributions to NATO accounted for about 70 percent of spending by the bloc's nations. Taxes for BMW He threatened German carmaker BMW with a border tax of 35 percent on cars that it planned to build at a new plant in Mexico and export to the US. He told the German daily that BMW should instead build its new car factory in the US because this would be "much better" for the company. A BMW spokeswoman said a new plant in San Luis Potosi would build the BMW 3 Series starting from 2019. Merkel, who is facing elections later this year, criticized Trump's protectionist policies on Saturday, and earlier said there was no guarantee of cooperation between the two countries. "From the point of view of some of our traditional partners - and I am thinking here as well about the transatlantic relations - there is no eternal guarantee for a close cooperation with us Europeans," Merkel told an audience in Brussels. On Friday the outgoing US ambassador to the EU warned against Trump supporting the bloc's breakup, saying it would be "sheer folly." Trump was interviewed for "The Times of London" by prominent Brexit campaigner and conservative British member of parliament, Michael Gove; and for "Bild" by its publisher and former editor Kai Diekmann, a prominent German journalist who will soon depart the business.

US President-elect Donald Trump labeled German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s stance on refugees a “catastrophic mistake.” He said the policy would lead to even more countries leaving the European Union after Britain. President-elect Trump heavily criticized Chancellor Merkel’s open-door policy on refugees in a joint interview published on Sunday with German tabloid newspaper “Bild” and British newspaper “The Times of London.” ... Read More »

Court: Bavarians have no right to vote for Merkel

Two Bavarian lawyers are challenging a basic tenet of Germany's political landscape in the election year - the bond between the CDU and the CSU. They lost the first battle, but want to go to the constitutional court. It's a strange wrinkle in the German political system, but the fraught climate and the importance of this September's election make ironing it out more urgent than ever, according to two Bavaria lawyers. Nuremberg law team Rainer and Christine Roth argue that the pact between Angela Merkel's conservative party, the Christian Democratic Union (CDU), and its Bavarian cousin, the Christian Social Union (CSU), deprives of them of their constitutional right to a free vote - since the CSU has been pushing a more right-wing agenda and pressuring Merkel - not least over her refugee policy. In the face of this, the long-time conservative supporters say the issue has become critical - even though the alliance between the two parties has been in place since their birth in 1950. For that reason, the right to vote for a stabilizing centrist like Merkel is vital. "The pressure has increased significantly in the year 2016 going into 2017," Rainer Roth told DW. "Not only domestically, but also because of the international political situation. The rise of two presidents who have to be treated with care leading the world's two superpowers, a lot of very difficult presidents of mid-sized powers, and we have a possible collapse of the European Union. We also have populist tendencies in Europe, including in Germany." "In my opinion, we need universally-recognized politicians in this difficult time who can help shape Germany's affairs. And at the moment I don't see any alternative to Mrs. Merkel," he said. Constitutional issue But Rainer Roth can't vote for Merkel's party because Germany's electoral law is organized by state. As well as directly-elected candidates in individual seats, German parties field lists of candidates who are elected to the Bundestag according to the proportion of the national vote. But state party organizations draw up these "lists" - which means the CSU effectively functions as the CDU's regional representative, so they draw up the list from their own candidates. As a solution, the Roths suggest that either the CDU be forced to field candidates in Bavaria, or, more realistically, that parties be allowed to set up national lists so that Bavarian CDU supporters can cast their vote for Merkel's party nationally. But so far the Roths have failed to get a German court to agree with them. A court in Hesse dismissed their case last week, on the grounds that there was no legal basis to allow their suit, since there was no such thing as a national list, and it did not see that their constitutional rights were being damaged. But Rainer Roth has not lost heart. "I think they missed the issue, because I want to know by which law my right to vote for a major party, a successful party after all, in the German Bundestag, can be limited," he said. "And this question wasn't answered." Parties keeping quiet Unsurprisingly, the two parties have kept quiet on the issue so far, since they both have a tactical interest in the status quo - the arrangement currently gives the CSU national influence with three ministers in Merkel's cabinet, and virtually assures the CDU victory in conservative Bavaria. But over the past year, CSU leader and Bavarian state premier Horst Seehofer, facing a threat from the populist right-wing Alternative for Germany (AfD), has been laying down increasingly stinging ultimatums to Merkel, usually involving a cap on refugee intake, and the fissures between the parties have widened. This, as far as Rainer Roth is concerned, makes it "absurd" that he should be forced to vote for the CSU just because he lives in Bavaria. For Frank Bösch, political historian at the University of Potsdam, this is the real value of the lawyers' suit - to point out the problematic relationship between the two parties. "They are not competing organizations, but directly bound together, through common organizations like the [youth organization] Junge Union," he told DW. "That makes the CSU formally a state association of the CDU. And yet its status as an independent party with a fixed parliamentary faction gives the CSU disproportionate political weight - even if the CDU's state association in North Rhine-Westphalia represents significantly more voters." Thomas Schlemmer, CSU specialist at Munich's Institute for Contemporary History (IfZ), is sympathetic to the Roths' political frustration, but thinks their campaign is doomed, since the problem is so deeply rooted in Germany's federalist history and the cultural history of the different regions. Not only that, he thinks the idea that a court might force a party to field candidates in parts of the country it didn't want to almost sounds "totalitarian." He also wonders whether the two parties really are so far apart as Seehofer's rhetoric sometimes makes it appear - after all, Merkel's asylum policy has largely followed the CSU's stricter course over the past year. Rainer Roth has also initiated on online petition for his cause, which at time of writing had collected several hundred signatures. "The support from citizens is enormous," he said. "Today I've just been busy answering emails and taking phone calls."

Two Bavarian lawyers are challenging a basic tenet of Germany’s political landscape in the election year – the bond between the CDU and the CSU. They lost the first battle, but want to go to the constitutional court. It’s a strange wrinkle in the German political system, but the fraught climate and the importance of this September’s election make ironing ... Read More »

Merkel: ‘We are stronger than terrorism’

جرمن چانسلر نے اپنے سال نو کے پیغام میں کہا ہے کہ اس وقت جرمنی کو سب سے بڑے چیلنج کا سامنا اسلام پسندوں کی دہشت گردی سے ہے۔ میرکل نے عہد کیا کہ سلامتی کی صورتحال کو یقینی بنانے کے لیے نئے قوانین متعارف کرائے جائیں گے۔ جرمن چانسلر انگیلا میرکل نے سال نو کے اپنے پیغام میں عوام سے کہا ہے کہ وہ نئے سال میں امید پسندی کے ساتھ داخل ہوں اور دہشت گردی کو مسترد کر دیں۔ خبر رساں ادارے روئٹرز نے بتایا ہے کہ میرکل نے اپنے اس خطاب میں کہا کہ سن دو ہزار سترہ میں ملک میں سکیورٹی کی صورتحال کو مزید بہتر بنانے کی کوشش کی جائے گی۔ تاہم انہوں نے کہا کہ حقیقی مہاجرین کو پناہ دینے اور معاشرے میں ان کے انضمام میں بھی مدد کی جائے گی۔ 2016ء: ایک بار پھر ایک ہولناک سال، تبصرہ چانسلر میرکل نےمہاجرین مخالف ’جرمن تشخص‘ کو رد کر دیا مہاجرین کی ڈیل پر قائم رہنا چاہیے، انگیلا میرکل میرکل نے کہا کہ سن دو ہزار سولہ کے دوران جرمنی کو کئی امتحانات کا سامنا رہا، جن میں سے اسلام پسندانہ دہشت گردی سب سے بڑا امتحان ثابت ہوا۔ گزشتہ بارہ مہینوں کے دوران جہاں جرمنی کو مہاجرین کے شدید بحران کا سامنا رہا، وہیں جرمنی میں متعدد دہشت گردانہ حملے بھی کیے گئے، جن میں ورسبرگ، آنسباخ اور برلن میں ہونے والے حملے نمایاں تھے۔ اس دوران جرمنی میں دہشت گردی کے کئی منصوبے ناکام بھی بنا دیے گئے۔ جرمن چانسلر نے عوام سے اپیل کی کہ وہ عوامیت پسندی کو ترک کر دیں۔ یہ امر اہم ہے کہ یورپ کو درپیش مہاجرین کے بحران اور متعدد دہشت گردانہ کارروائیوں کے باعث جرمنی سمیت کئی ملکوں میں عوامیت پسند سیاسی جماعتوں کی مقبولیت میں اضافہ ہوا ہے۔ اس تناظر میں میرکل نے کہا کہ یورپ کو درپیش چیلنجوں میں جرمنی ایک قائدانہ کردار ادا کرنا چاہتا ہے، اس لیے عوام کو اتحاد کا مظاہرہ کرنا چاہیے۔ جرمن چانسلر کا یہ بھی کہنا تھا کہ ایسے لوگوں پر جرمنی میں حملے کیے جانا قابل مذمت ہے، جو محفوظ ٹھکانہ تلاش کرتے ہوئے جرمنی پہنچے اور جنہیں اس ملک میں تحفظ دینے کے ساتھ ساتھ مدد بھی فراہم کی گئی۔ میرکل کے بقول اس طرح کے پرتشدد اعمال جرمنی کی طرف سے ایسے افراد کی مدد پر طعنہ زنی کا باعث بنے ہیں اور بالخصوص ایسے مہاجرین کے لیے جنہیں حقیقی طور پر تحفظ اور مدد کی ضرورت ہے۔ اس تمام صورتحال کے باوجود میرکل نے دہرایا کہ ان کی حکومت مہاجرین کو پناہ دینے کے حق میں ہے۔ میرکل نے کہا کہ یہ ہمارے ملک کے لیے اہم ہے کہ ایسے مہاجرین کو پناہ دی جائے، جو حقیقی طور پر اس کے حقدار ہیں۔ انہوں نے مزید کہا کہ ایسے لوگوں کی جرمن معاشرے میں انضمام میں بھی مدد کی جانا چاہیے۔ میرکل کے بقول، ’’ہم اس وقت مضبوط ہوں گے، جب ہم متحد ہوں گے۔‘‘ انہوں نے کہا کہ جرمنی ایک مضبوط ملک ہے اور ریاست دہشت گردی کے خاتمے کے لیے تمام تر اقدامات کرے گی تاکہ شہریوں کی آزادی کو یقینی بنایا جا سکے۔ انہوں نے کہا کہ اس مقصد کی خاطر جرمن حکومت سن دو ہزار سترہ میں فوری طور پر اضافی قوانین بھی متعارف کرائے گی اور پالیسیاں بھی اپنائے گی۔ جرمن چانسلر نے یہ سب باتیں سال نو کے موقع پر قوم سے اپنے اس نشریاتی خطاب میں کہی ہیں، جو آج ہفتہ اکتیس دسمبر کی شام سوا سات بجے نشر کیا جائے گا اور جس کا تحریری مسودہ میڈیا کے لیے آج دن کے آغاز پر جاری کر دیا گیا تھا۔

In her New Year’s speech, German Chancellor Angela Merkel has called on citizens to go into 2017 with optimism and defy terrorism. But to guarantee “security in freedom,” she said new security measures may be necessary. The year 2016 is coming to an end, and 2017 is about to begin in Germany. In her New Year’s speech, Chancellor Angela Merkel ... Read More »

German Justice Minister Heiko Maas worried fake news might affect 2017 election

Justice Minister Heiko Maas has said Germans "must reckon" with the idea that internet-based misinformation could play a part in the 2017 federal election. MPs from Merkel's CDU party will be briefed on the issue Monday. Justice Minister Heiko Maas has said he fears false information spread online could unfairly influence next year's Bundestag election campaign. Maas is the latest public figure to voice such concerns, following revelations that social media networks helped spread false and malicious information in the lead-up to November's presidential election in the United States. "The Washington Post" has said Russia was behind the effort. It's not clear if fake news and propaganda helped sway the US election in any way; however, millions of people around the world get their news through what's shared on Facebook and other social media sites. Facebook and Google have said they are tightening up the spread of misinformation on their sites. One development that has concerned lawmakers is the spread of so-called "social bots" - software that can mimic human behavior on social media sites by publishing messages or liking posts. There is growing alarm over the influence of social bots on potential voters. It has also been reported that Germany's far-right, populist Alternative for Germany (AfD) has flagged its intention to use social bots as part of its campaign strategy next year. 'Dark side of the internet' "Unfortunately, this is a dark side of the internet, a side we have to deal with more intensively," Maas said. According to the minister, the spread of misinformation would best be countered by greater transparency - calling on social media networks, like Facebook, to disclose the basics of their business and information practices. Maas' comments come as MPs from Chancellor Angela Merkel's CDU party prepare to be briefed on the issue on Monday. Last week, Merkel announced her intention to run for a fourth term in office. "Merkel is really interested in the topic of bots and fake news and hate speech on the internet and she's very well informed," said Simon Hegelich, a Munich-based professor of political data science, whom Merkel has invited to Berlin. Hegelich said the impact of social bots on the democratic process has yet to be fully researched, but those with extremist and radical opinions can often outgun more moderate voices. "Suddenly the whole picture is distorted and society appears to be totally polarized," Hegelich said.

Justice Minister Heiko Maas has said Germans “must reckon” with the idea that internet-based misinformation could play a part in the 2017 federal election. MPs from Merkel’s CDU party will be briefed on the issue Monday. Justice Minister Heiko Maas has said he fears false information spread online could unfairly influence next year’s Bundestag election campaign. Maas is the latest ... Read More »

Merkel expected to announce she will run for fourth term as German chancellor

The German Chancellor is expected to announce on Sunday that she will run for another term as head of government. The CDU will face a significant test from the Alternative for Germany and other parties in 2017. German Chancellor Angela Merkel is expected to announce she will run for her fourth term as chancellor during a meeting with other members of her Christian Democratic Union (CDU) on Sunday. Merkel has announced that she will hold a press conference on Sunday evening, a sign that she has made up her mind on whether she will try for another go. Fellow CDU politicians have previously said Merkel would run again. CDU politician Norbert Röttgen said Merkel would run for another term on Tuesday during an interview on CNN. Elmar Brok told German newspaper Rhein Neckar Zeitung "everybody knows that Merkel will run for office again" on Saturday. Praise from Obama Merkel has been chancellor since 2005, won praise for navigating Europe's largest economy through the financial crisis and eurozone crisis. United States President Barack Obama called Merkel "someone I can trust" during his recent visit to Germany, his final one as president. But her handling of the migrant crisis has angered many German voters, after she allowed nearly 1 million migrants into Germany. Her popularity slumped and other parties gained ground in local elections. In September, Merkel said she wished she could turn back time on the migrant crisis after the CDU suffered a major defeat in Berlin state elections, but stopped short of calling her policy a mistake. Current polls see another "grand coalition" taking shape after elections in September 2017. The conservative bloc of the CDU and their Bavarian sister party, the Christian Social Union (CSU), is up 10 points over the Social Democrats (SPD). The three parties currently make up nearly 80 percent of the Bundestag. The Alternative for Germany (AfD) will be a significant test to Merkel and the grand coalition in 2017. Forming as a Euro-sceptic party in 2013, the AfD won 4.7 percent of the popular vote in the previous federal elections in 2013, just missing the necessary 5 percent needed to be represented in the Bundestag. After developing anti-immigration policies the party has won seats in every state election held in Germany since 2014. The party is lead by Frauke Petry, who is similar to Merkel in that they both grew up in former East Germany and hold university degrees in sciences. Merkel will have to convince voters to move away from the AfD in order to win.

The German Chancellor is expected to announce on Sunday that she will run for another term as head of government. The CDU will face a significant test from the Alternative for Germany and other parties in 2017. German Chancellor Angela Merkel is expected to announce she will run for her fourth term as chancellor during a meeting with other members ... Read More »

Hungary’s migration policy protects ‘European freedom,’ says Orban

Speaking to Bavaria's state legislature, Prime Minister Viktor Orban has likened Hungary's border closure to opening its borders with Austria in 1989, allowing hundreds of East Germans to flee to the West. Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban on Monday defended his anti-migrant stance, claiming it's his nation's "duty" to protect cherished values in Europe. "I promise you that Hungary will ... always be on the side of European freedom," Orban told the state legislature in Germany's Bavaria. "In 1989, we acted for the freedom of Europe and now we're protecting this freedom," the Hungarian premier added, referring to Budapest's decision to open its border with Austria, allowing hundreds of Germans living under communist rule to flee to the West. In the summer of 2015, Hungary closed its borders to asylum seekers fleeing conflict in the Middle East, Asia and Africa, leaving tens of thousands stranded during their journey towards wealthier EU nations. Seehofer backs Orban Bavarian State Premier Horst Seehofer, known as a vocal critic of German Chancellor Angela Merkel's open-door policy towards refugees, invited Orban to give a speech to the Bavarian parliament for the 60-year anniversary of the 1956 Hungarian Uprising against the Soviet Union. Opposition parties, including the Social Democrats and Left Party, criticized Seehofer's Christian Social Union (CSU) for providing Orban with a platform at the state legislature. Seehofer and Orban have met on three separate occasions over the past year. Nearly 900,000 migrants crossed Germany's borders in 2015, many of them Syrians fleeing war in their homeland.

Speaking to Bavaria’s state legislature, Prime Minister Viktor Orban has likened Hungary’s border closure to opening its borders with Austria in 1989, allowing hundreds of East Germans to flee to the West. Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban on Monday defended his anti-migrant stance, claiming it’s his nation’s “duty” to protect cherished values in Europe. “I promise you that Hungary will ... Read More »

Politicians blame Merkel’s refugee policy for defeat in regional elections

Chancellor Angela Merkel received heavy criticism from her opponents as well as from within her own ranks. Her party, the Christian Democratic Union (CDU), came third place in state elections in her home state. The CDU's Bavarian sister party, the Christian Social Union (CSU), blamed the chancellor and her open-door policy on refugees for the shocking result in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania. Bavarian finance minister Markus Söder said that receiving fewer than 20 percent of the overall vote in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania should serve as a "wake-up call" with regards to her refugee policy. Söder told the Monday morning edition of the regional daily newspaper "Nürnberger Nachrichten" that Merkel needed to adopt a hard line on migrants. "It is no longer possible to ignore people's views on this issue. Berlin needs to change tack," Söder said. Merkel's CDU lost a great number of votes to the newly established "Alternative for Germany" party (AfD), which managed to come second-place in the regional elections in the northeastern state. The Secretary-General of the CSU, Andreas Scheuer, also joined the ranks of those demanding a tougher stance on refugees. He told the daily newspaper "Berliner Tagesspiegel" that the federal government in Berlin now had to take some tough decision after the devastating result at the polls. "The CSU is pointing in the right direction. We need a cap on refugee numbers, expedited repatriation processes, an expansion of the list of nations deemed to be safe countries of origin, and better integration measures," he said, adding later that that the AfD had seized the opportunity to exploit Merkel's dwindling support. "We can't simply give in and watch how a party built on attracting protest voters profits from the failures of the federal government in Berlin." More criticism from within Merkel's own party Meanwhile, the joint CDU and CSU parliamentary spokesperson on domestic affairs, Stephan Mayer, told the "Huffington Post" that the election results amounted to "a catastrophe" that came as a reaction to Merkel's refugee policy. "There is actually a lot that the federal government has already done since 2015 in terms of changing its course with regards to its refugee policy, but this news has apparently not reached many eligible voters so far," Mayer said. In Berlin, CDU federal general secretary Peter Tauber - standing in for Merkel who is currently attending the G20 summit in China - said the result was "bitter" - while stressing that it would not influence the prospect of Merkel contesting a fourth federal term next year. Mixed results at the polls There were no winners and losers in absolute terms at the elections in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania. However, the vote served as a litmus test on opinions on the government's current policy (especially on refugees) rather than only taking regional issues into account. In addition to Merkel's CDU's bad results of only 19 percent of the vote, her federal government coalition partner, the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD), also suffered a major setback. While the center-left SPD managed to garner a better-than-forecast 30.6 percent in Sunday's election, it too lost several percents of its voter base to the AfD. The AfD had targeted Merkel's CDU and her coalition partner, the SPD, since her decision a year ago not to close Germany's border to refugees arriving from war zones such as Syria and Iraq via Hungary and Austria. Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania as a reflection of German views Merkel's CDU and its lead candidate Lorenz Caffier, who has governed in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania's capital Schwerin in coalition with the SPD for a decade, had visibly tried to distance himself from Merkel's policies ahead of the vote - publicly campaigning against contentious issues like allowing the wearing of burqas and dual citizenship. "The federal government must react," Caffier said, stressing that, constitutionally speaking, it was primarily responsible for Germany's borders and the intake of refugees. Caffier meanwhile also rejected calls for him to quit his regional party leadership. "I think at the moment I have no reason to do so," he said. "We got to witness a new set of circumstances in this election, whereby the positive developments in regional politics did not even begin to factor in with the people. Instead there was only one issue that mattered: refugees - despite the fact that they hardly play a role at all in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania." Current State Premier Erwin Sellering (SPD) said that the vote should how the public was "deeply worried," adding that refugee issues had played a "great role" in tempting voters to vote for the populist AfD movement. Sellering referred to the election as one of his party's hardest ever campaigns. AfD eyes 2017 election AfD veteran strategist and deputy chairman Alexander Gauland said Sunday's result had great symbolic power ahead of next year's federal election and would add impetus to Berlin city-state's election on September 18, 2016. Citizens no longer wanted Merkel's policies, Gauland claimed. Federal Greens co-leader Cem Özdemir meanwhile stressed on Germany's ZDF public television channel that all democratic parties had lost ground on Sunday, warning against simply putting the blame on Merkel.

Chancellor Angela Merkel received heavy criticism from her opponents as well as from within her own ranks. Her party, the Christian Democratic Union (CDU), came third place in state elections in her home state. The CDU’s Bavarian sister party, the Christian Social Union (CSU), blamed the chancellor and her open-door policy on refugees for the shocking result in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania. ... Read More »

Germany urges Russia to implement peace in Syria, Ukraine

Germany's foreign minister has urged Russia to finalize a ceasefire in Syria with the US. Chancellor Angela Merkel also addressed the situation in Syria with President Vladimir Putin at the sidelines of the G20 meeting. Speaking on a visit to Oslo, Steinmeier stressed the urgency of delivering humanitarian aid to Syrians under siege in Aleppo. Steinmeier told reporters that a ceasefire in Aleppo was a prerequisite for the Syrian opposition to agree to return to negotiations. "The US has made its offer. Russia can now show that it is genuinely interested in seeing an end to the fighting in Syria," Steinmeier told the Funke Mediengruppe, a German newspaper group, in an interview to be published on Monday. "Moscow knows, like everyone else, that there is no military solution for the conflict in Syria," he added, highlighting that ending the fighting was not solely dependant on Moscow, but also on "other players inside and outside Syria who just want to keep fighting." Focus on Ukraine Meeting on the sidelines of the G20 summit in China, German Chancellor Angela Merkel also discussed the humanitarian situation in Syria with Russian President Vladimir Putin, German government spokesman Steffen Seibert confirmed. The two leaders also spoke about the situation in eastern Ukraine. A ceasefire agreement between pro-Russian separatists and Kyiv government troops was signed in Minsk in February 2015, but many of its points have not yet been implemented and the ceasefire remains fragile. It was the first meeting between Merkel and Putin in several months. Relations between the two countries have been strained since the conflict began with Russia's annexation of the Crimean Peninsula in 2014.

Germany’s foreign minister has urged Russia to finalize a ceasefire in Syria with the US. Chancellor Angela Merkel also addressed the situation in Syria with President Vladimir Putin at the sidelines of the G20 meeting. Speaking on a visit to Oslo, Steinmeier stressed the urgency of delivering humanitarian aid to Syrians under siege in Aleppo. Steinmeier told reporters that a ... Read More »

Merkel says mistakes made in Germany, EU concerning refugees

Germany and other EU countries turned a blind eye to displaced people for too long, German Chancellor Angela Merkel has said. She also cautioned against some politicians' rhetoric on the influx of migrants. Angela Merkel has largely held to her August 31, 2015, assertion that "we can do this" (German: "Wir schaffen das.") in an interview with Germany's "Süddeutsche Zeitung" daily. Her now famous statement was in regard to Germany's ability to take in hundreds of thousands of displaced people. The chancellor, who has faced months of criticism for her optimism, told SZ that Germany and other EU states failed to react to mounting evidence of a crisis. "There are political issues that one can see coming but don't really register with people at that certain moment - and in Germany, we ignored both the problem for too long and blocked out the need to find a pan-European solution," Merkel said. She added that Germany also erred in years past when it "rejected a proportional distribution of refugees" by shifting responsibility for displaced people to the European Union's maritime borders for over a decade. Germany has now taken in most of the more than 1 million migrants from the Middle East and Asia who arrived in the European Union last year. In the interview, Merkel admonished German politicians to express themselves in moderate terms and not participate in the current ratcheting up of rhetoric about threats from abroad. "It's simply incorrect to say that terrorism came only with the refugees," Merkel told SZ. "It was already here in myriad forms and with the various potential attackers that we have been watching." 'Deeply convinced' Merkel's self-criticism was published to coincide with the anniversary of her initial "wir schaffen das" exhortation. She noted in the interview that she was "deeply convinced" when she said those words to the nation. "Germany will remain Germany - with all that is dear to us," Merkel told SZ. "But Germany has undergone constant change since the beginning of the federal republic. Change is nothing bad. It's a necessary part of life."

Germany and other EU countries turned a blind eye to displaced people for too long, German Chancellor Angela Merkel has said. She also cautioned against some politicians’ rhetoric on the influx of migrants. Angela Merkel has largely held to her August 31, 2015, assertion that “we can do this” (German: “Wir schaffen das.”) in an interview with Germany’s “Süddeutsche Zeitung” ... Read More »

Merkel confident about overcoming refugee crisis, Turkey dilemma

Despite losing support after her famous pro-refugee slogan, "We can do it," Chancellor Merkel is confident that Germany will ride the migrant crisis. The leader spoke to Germany's public broadcaster ARD. In an interview on Sunday, Chancellor Angela Merkel defended her refugee policy, saying that she had made it clear last year that it would be a big task integrating migrants coming to Germany. "We have achieved a lot since then and we need to do some more," Merkel told the presenters, referring to her famous slogan, "Wir schaffen das," German for, "We can do it." "We are at a completely different position since last year," Merkel said, adding that the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF) had thousands of new employees dealing with the newcomers. The government in Berlin is supporting local administrations and state governments in overcoming the crisis. There were new and stricter rules for refugees who could not stay in Germany and migrants were being told they needed to integrate and learn German, Merkel told ARD. Merkel also addressed the distribution of migrants within Europe, saying that the European Union needed to find a common solution. "Every member must do their share," Merkel said, adding that countries could not just reject migrants because they were Muslims. The bloc also needed to work on an coherent internal security policy and the implementation of the refugee pact with Turkey, the chancellor said. Chancellor Merkel emphasized the bloc's discussions with Britain on the latter's exit from the European Union, saying that the Brexit was a break from the past and member states needed to think about a solution in peace. "We all agree in the European Union that Britain's exit, the result of the referendum, will have a big impact … Rather than rushing into acitivities, we should perhaps first take time to think about what we, as the 27 countries, must do better." Conflicts abroad Merkel also referred to her statement regarding the loyalty of Germany's Turkish citizens. "I keep saying that I'm their chancellor too and I think it's important to profess that and it's good if that is reciprocated by commitment to our country and not by bringing conflicts from Turkey to Germany," she said. Pressure has mounted among Germany's Turks following a failed coup against Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in July. His backers have demonstrated in several German cities, where supporters of the Gülen movement are believed to coexist. Fethullah Gülen, who runs a movement spanning businesses and academia, lives in exile in the US and is accused of having orchestrated the coup. The chancellor also addressed the Ukraine crisis, lamenting the fact that the Minsk Pact had not been adhered to. Sanctions against Russia would remain in place, considering the situation in eastern Ukraine, Merkel said. However, she emphasized that the bloodbath in Syria had to be stopped and that this could only be done through discussion. There was no military solution to it. Merkel evaded all questions regarding her candidacy for a fourth term as chancellor, saying she would make an announcement when the time was right. A new poll conducted by the survey company Emnid, says that half of Germans oppose the chancellor seeking another term.

Despite losing support after her famous pro-refugee slogan, “We can do it,” Chancellor Merkel is confident that Germany will ride the migrant crisis. The leader spoke to Germany’s public broadcaster ARD. In an interview on Sunday, Chancellor Angela Merkel defended her refugee policy, saying that she had made it clear last year that it would be a big task integrating ... Read More »

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