Germany: Merkel defends refugee policy amid discontent

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German chancellor promises no new taxes on the German public amid debate over costs of providing for large numbers of refugees in the country

BERLIN – German Chancellor Angela Merkel has defended her open-door policy for refugees, highlighting the fact that Germany is capable of managing the refugee influx without imposing any new taxes or tax hikes.

A record 577,000 asylum seekers came to Germany between January and September; German authorities are expecting to receive around one million asylum seekers this year.

Despite growing public discontent and dissent among the ranks of her own coalition government, Merkel defended her policy and said that she was also carrying out intense diplomacy with European partners to find a solution to the crisis.

“Germany is a country of humanity and rule of law. We have to be proud of that,” Merkel said in an interview with Bild newspaper published Monday.

She defended her decision last month to open Germany’s borders for refugees that escaped war in Syria and Iraq, and also underlined that Germany could not solve the crisis alone. She urged other EU member states to accept more refugees.

“It can only be solved with solidarity among the European partners. All the [countries in] Europe should do utmost for securing the external borders of the EU and at the same time distribute the refugees among the member states in a fair way,” she said.

Merkel said that she understood the worries of some Germans about the record number of refugees seeking shelter in Germany, but highlighted that German authorities were capable of managing the situation without any need for new taxes.

“We should be pleased that for many years we have had a good economic performance and our economic situation is good,” she said.

She also said that her government would continue to give shelter to asylum seekers who escaped wars and political persecution, but would adopt a stricter policy against economic migrants, and return them back to their countries.

Germany is shouldering the largest part of Europe’s refugee crisis and the surge in asylum applications has been exploited by far-right and populist parties with weekly rallies against immigration across the country.

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