by WorldTribune Staff, March 22, 2018
German Chancellor Angela Merkel on March 21 said the country’s taking in of more than 1 million migrants was a “humanitarian exception” that “must not be repeated.”
In the first major speech of her fourth term, Merkel told the Bundestag that her government pledges to cap the number of migrants Germany takes in to between 180,000 to 220,000 per year or fewer.
“People who have no right to protection will have to leave our country, preferably voluntarily, but if necessary by state deportations,” Merkel said.
But she also extended a hand to Muslims currently living in Germany.
“It is beyond question that our country was historically formed by Christianity and Judaism,” Merkel said. “But it’s also the case that with 4.5 million Muslims living with us, their religion, Islam, has also become a part of Germany.”
Germany’s new conservative Interior Minister, Horst Seehofer, had said in an interview with the daily Bild newspaper last week that “No. Islam does not belong to Germany. Germany has been shaped by Christianity.”
“The Muslims who live with us obviously belong to Germany,” Seehofer noted, adding that “false consideration for others clearly does not mean we give up our country-specific traditions and customs.”
Alexander Gauland co-leader of the anti-migration Alternative for Germany (AfD) said that “mass immigration continues unchecked” and suggested that recent migrants were receiving benefits at the expense of low-income Germans.
Supporting eastern European leaders who have refused to take in migrants, Gauland said that “there is no obligation to diversity … there is also no obligation to share my state with outsiders.”
Merkel noted that the migrant crisis “has divided and polarized our country” and called for increased security on the European Union’s external borders.
Near the end of her speech, Merkel stressed the importance of European solidarity.
“The EU has proven to be a boon for us Germans,” the chancellor said. “That’s why I’m convinced that the future of Europe resides in sticking together rather than acting as a number of small individual countries.”
Merkel said Germany and the European Union would continue talks with the United States on trade, but said tariffs on steel and aluminum imports proposed by U.S. President Donald Trump were “unlawful.”