Germany’s Merkel remains confident in coping with refugee challenges
Source: Xinhua | 2016-07-28 23:19:24 | Editor:
German Chancellor Angela Merkel attends a press conference in Berlin, Germany, on July 28. 2016. German Chancellor Angela Merkel repeated her immigration mantra “We can do it” on Thursday after recent string of attacks shocked the country, while raising a nine-point plan to ensure security, which includes increasing security personnel, establishing an information center, and enhancing international cooperation. (Xinhua/Zhang Fan)
BERLIN, July 28 (Xinhua) — German Chancellor Angela Merkel expressed her confidence in coping with refugee challenges on Thursday, repeating her mantra “We can do it” while raising a nine-point plan to ensure security after recent terror attacks in the country.
Merkel interrupted her vacation after four attacks claimed more than 10 lives in southern Germany within the past week. Three of the four attackers were refugees, two had connections with the Islamic State.
“We are facing a huge test,” said Merkel at a press conference in Berlin. “In Germany, in Europe, in our neighboring countries, terror prevails.”
She condemned the recent attacks saying they were “shocking, distressing and depressing,” and that measures needed to be taken to ensure security.
Merkel announced a nine-point plan which included lowering the hurdles for the expulsion of asylum seekers, adopting an early warning system for radicalization among refugees, and joint exercises of the police and armed forces.
In addition to this, the plan would see the establishment of a central agency to decrypt Internet communication, passing an European weapon directive to prevent trading weapons online, enhancing international intelligence cooperation and strengthening work with countries in the Middle East and North Africa to reduce the number of refugees seeking asylum in Europe.
“Several months ago, I said in this hall that Germany is a strong country. This (refugee) issue is our national task,” the Chancellor said, referring to last summer when she introduced her famous tagline “We can do it” and opened borders to refugees.
Over 1 million refugees flocked to Germany last year. The German population was welcoming at first, but public opinion has shifted somewhat after mass sexual assaults by refugees in Cologne on New Year’s Eve.
Recent terror attacks have put more pressure on Merkel for her refugee policy and have fueled anxieties that far-right parties’ political influence will increase.
“I did not say that it would be an easy task,” Merkel told reporters about finding a solution to the refugee crisis, adding she had expected challenges ahead when she made the decision to open borders last summer.
She said Germany would stick to its principles and continue to grant asylum protection to those fleeing wars.
“I am convinced, just as earlier, that we can make our historical task well in the time of globalization,” Merkel reiterated. “We can do it.”