Merkel campaigns on long term solutions to migration

German Chancellor Angela Merkel (C), Chadian President Idriss Deby Itno (2-R) and EU Foreign Policy Chief Federica Mogherini (L) sit for a meeting at the Elysee Palace. Paris, 28 August. [Thibault Camus/EPA]

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has centred her electoral campaign on developing long-term solutions to the migrant crisis. EURACTIV Spain reports.

Merkel is seeking her fourth mandate in an uneventful campaign, which appears already settled in her favour.

Opening Germany’s borders to refugees in 2015 following the humanitarian crisis was the “right” decision, Chancellor Merkel said during the traditional summer press conference on Tuesday (29 August).

In her opinion, it is time to tackle the migrant crisis, with a particular role for transit countries.

Merkel opened the press conference discussing the plan by France, Germany, Italy, Libya, Chad and Niger to control the flow of migrants and reminded that “no one can solve this alone”.

Migrants: 87% drop in arrivals in August, UN warns of risks to refugees

New statistics published by Italy’s Ministry of the Interior shows that arrivals have dropped by 10% since the beginning of the year, as asylum seekers are stopped at the Libyan border.

Helping source countries

“We can’t keep our isolation towards the migration phenomenon. We have to help on the ground, in source countries, so that people are not forced to leave,” she said before declaring that Europe had not acted with the necessary solidarity and cohesion on this humanitarian emergency.

The refugee crisis has left its mark on her third and now concluding mandate, in which Merkel was heavily criticised – including from her own Christian Democrats (CDU) –  for having opened Germany’s borders while other European countries were closing them.

Since 2015 Germany received 1.3 million refugees.

Merkel reacted by mediating the deal between Turkey and the EU to halt the arrival of regudees, and ensuring the quick repatriation of migrants who did not meet the criteria to stay.

Germany keeps receiving 15,000 refugees per month and Turkey’s relations with Germany are at peak tension.

“I wish they could be better, but I am realistic,” the chancellor said, and repeated her request that Ankara frees German citizens held in Turkey “without justification”.

African and European leaders renew efforts to tackle migration

African and European leaders gathered in Paris on Monday (28 August) to broach the subject of migration, where support was expressed for moving the EU’s external border into Africa itself, so that asylum applications can be handled locally. EURACTIV France reports.