In an interview set to be released in Wednesday’s Sueddeutsche Zeitung, German Chancellor Angela Merkel reflects on the last twelve months and the criticism she and her party have faced over the refugee policies. Instead of her usual defense, Merkel takes a new turn, admitting that she has made some mistakes in her approach.
“we ignored the problem for too long”
While calling on the need for some patience, Merkel told the paper that 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.”
It has been about a year since she addressed the German public on the rising number of refugees about to enter their country, saying “wir schaffen das” (“we can do this”), but now the reality has set in and Germany was not as ready as she first thought.
“We didn’t embrace the problem in an appropriate way.”
“Back then, we also rejected a proportional distribution of the refugees,” she tells the paper in response to her not working more closely with surrounding EU countries. “We didn’t embrace the problem in an appropriate way.”
While this is her strongest admission of the failed policy to date, Merkel isn’t ready to fully conceded on every front.
Germany’s recent terror attacks have been blamed on the country’s open border and refugees, but Merkel continues to speak out against the correlation. “It’s simply incorrect to say that terrorism came only with the refugees. It was already here in myriad forms and with the various potential attackers that we have been watching.”
As Germany’s 2017 national elections grow closer, Merkel has still not said whether or not she will be seeking a fourth term. Recent poll numbers have not looked good for a reelection campaign, but perhaps this admission that she made some mistakes is her first step in an attempt to regain some support.
One thing Merkel did touch on in the interview though was that the refugee situation in Germany isn’t something that can be resolved overnight and that it will be a long-term issue for the country going forward.