In an attempt to calm the mounting anger from members of her own ruling Christian Democrats party — and among European leaders in the neighboring countries — Angel Merkel has finally pledged to stem the inflow of Syrian asylum-seekers into Germany.
Silencing the conservative criticism of opening the country to an estimated 1 million refugees in 2015, the German chancellor issued a challenge to the rest of Europe, asking it to share the burden in resolving the crisis during a keynote speech on Monday.
“We face the biggest refugee crisis since the Second World War,” she told the party faithful. “The fight for a unified Europe is worthwhile — of that I am deeply convinced.”
Merkel has faced growing opposition in her homeland in the face of her “open-door” migrant policy. Since many claimed that she has lost all control over the situation, this speech serves as a reminder of her hardened resolution.
“Multiculturalism leads to parallel societies and therefore remains a ‘life lie,’” the chancellor said, adding that Germany may be reaching its limits in terms of accepting more refugees. “The challenge is immense. We want and we will reduce the number of refugees noticeably.”
She also insisted that Germans would succeed in absorbing the intake “because it is part of the identity of this country to do great things.” Moreover, she said it was their “humanitarian duty” to take in war refugees.
Unsurprisingly, her statements were met by thunderous applause and a seven-minute standing ovation.
“We are going to manage this — if there are obstacles to overcome, then we will have to work to overcome them,” Merkel told the CDU delegates. “We are ready to show what we are made of.”
The speech won unanimous backing of the delegates, but many believe it was an attempt to buy time. Although she does not face a general election until 2017, there is a consensus that if she fails to control the refugee crisis, her future as chancellor is pretty much doomed.
Merkel was named person of the year by both Time magazine and the Financial Times for her bold response to the migrant crisis.