Merkel says faults made in refugee crisis

Merkel says faults made in refugee crisis

Merkel says faults made in refugee crisis

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and German Economy Minister Sigmar Gabriel arrive for a cabinet meeting at the Chancellery in Berlin, Germany August 31, 2016. REUTERS photo

Germany and other European Union countries turned a blind eye to the refugee crisis building on its external borders for too long, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said in a German newspaper interview published on Aug. 31.

Merkel, who has faced criticism in Germany for launching her policies of welcoming refugees a year ago, also told the Süddeutsche Zeitung that Germany and the EU will need patience and endurance in dealing with migration of people to Europe. 

“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,” she said. 

Merkel made the comments in an unusually self-critical analysis that appeared to be timed to the one-year anniversary of her now-famous statement “Wir schaffen das,” or “we can do this,” when asked about the rising tide of refugees. 

She said Germany, which has taken in most of the more than 1 million refugees from the Middle East and Asia who arrived in the EU in the past year, had let Spain and other EU border countries deal with the refugees on their own. “Back then, we also rejected a proportional distribution of the refugees,” she said. 

Meanwhile, support for Merkel’s conservatives has slipped as more voters turn to the anti-immigrant Alternative for Germany (AfD), a poll showed yesterday. A Forsa poll showed support for her conservatives, still the biggest group, had fallen to 33 percent, down two points from last week and eight points from a year ago.