• Germany's news in English
 
app_header_v3

Merkel: Migrants bigger challenge than Greece

AFP/DPA/The Local · 17 Aug 2015, 11:22

Published: 17 Aug 2015 09:03 GMT+02:00
Updated: 17 Aug 2015 11:22 GMT+02:00

Asked about more than 200 arson attacks against homes for asylum-seekers seen in Germany this year as the country faces a record influx of refugees, Merkel said: "That is unworthy of our country."

Merkel warned that waves of refugees would "preoccupy Europe much, much more than the issue of Greece and the stability of the euro". 

"The issue of asylum could be the next major European project, in which we show whether we are really able to take joint action," she told ZDF public television in the first of a series of traditional "summer interviews" with leading politicians.

For Germany, where some officials have said the number of asylum-seekers could top 600,000 this year, Merkel said the issue posed particular challenges.

With thousands of refugees sleeping in tents and authorities saying they are overwhelmed with applications, Merkel said the current situation was "absolutely unsatisfactory".

She called for the European Union to establish a list of safe countries of origin, where citizens are not under threat of violence or persecution.

Last week Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere said it was "unacceptable" that 40 percent of asylum-seekers in his country were from the Balkans, calling it "an embarrassment for Europe".

About half of Germany's 300,000 asylum applications since January have come from the southeast European region that includes Albania, Bosnia, Bulgaria, Croatia, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia.

Story continues below…

The federal government's new tone chimes with demands coming from politicians in the German states which have seen the most asylum seekers arriving, such as Bavaria.

"The grants for [asylum seekers from the Balkans] are an imposition on German taxpayers," Bavarian interior minister Joachim Hermann told Die Welt on Monday, adding that they were drawing people who didn't need protection to come to Germany.
 
Germany "has the job of preventing hopeless asylum applications" from people coming out of safe countries, MEP and Serbia expert David McAllister of Merkel's Christian Democratic Union (CDU) told Bild on Monday.

Berlin is looking at ways to deter such claims in order to better serve people from crisis zones such as Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan.

The UN refugee agency has said the number of people driven from their homes by conflict and crisis has topped 50 million for the first time since World War II, with Syrians hardest hit.

For more news from Germany, join us on Facebook and Twitter.

AFP/DPA/The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Today's headlines
President who pioneered Moscow ties dies aged 97
Former Cold War President of West Germany Walter Scheel. Photo: DPA.

Former West German president Walter Scheel, who helped pave the way for his country's rapprochement with the communist East, has died aged 97, his party's spokesman said on Wednesday.

Former East to lag behind West for years to come: study
Poverty in eastern Germany. File photo: DPA

Eastern Germany remains economically anaemic with little prospect of catching up with the rest of the country by 2030, a study published on Wednesday said.

Turkey's spy network in Germany 'thicker than Stasi's'
Photo: DPA.

Turkey has around 6,000 informants working in Germany, which experts say means they're each monitoring more people than the Stasi did in West Germany during the Cold War.

Germany's first 'intelligent' bridge to open in Nuremberg
File photo: DPA

An €11 million bridge, which is nearing completion in northern Bavaria, is set to include technology never seen before on the German Autobahn.

Stockpile food in case of attack, Germany tells citizens
Photo: DPA

Germany on Wednesday urged its population to stockpile food and water in case of terrorist or cyber attacks, as it adopted its first civil defence strategy since the end of the Cold War.

Ten injured after freight train crashes into bus in Osnabrück
The crash site in Osnabrück. Photo: DPA

A freight train crashed into a bus in Osnabrück on Wednesday morning, leaving several people badly injured, local media report.

Man wins ten-year court battle over €2.50 surcharge
Photo: DPA

An Austrian man has won a ten year court battle over an extra €2.50 he was asked to pay to get into a swimming pool in Bavaria a decade ago.

In Pictures
Düsseldorf swoons as Prince William comes for royal visit
'Well hello Mr. Prince'. Photo: DPA.

Prince William paid a visit to the Rhineland city of Düsseldorf on Wednesday to celebrate the state of North Rhine-Westphalia's 70th birthday. Here's a look at his royal stay.

Brexit
Frankfurt attempts to charm banks away from London
Frankfurt am Main. Photo: DPA

Germany's finance capital has spotted an opportunity with the Brexit-wary banking beasts of the Square Mile.

How did this bike end up on top of Berlin’s Molecule Man?
A professional climber 'rescuing' the bike hanging from the Molecule Man. Photo: DPA.

Berliners are still scratching their heads over how a bicycle ended up dangling from the capital’s iconic statue.

Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
Gallery
Germany's 17 Olympic gold medals in pictures
Sponsored Article
Why expats choose international health insurance
Culture
7 American habits that make Germans very, very uncomfortable
Rhineland
Story of a fugitive cow who outwitted police for weeks before capture
Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
Culture
Eleven famous Germans with surnames that'll make your sides split
Sponsored Article
Life in Jordan: 'Undiscovered treasure'
Lifestyle
The best ways to get a visa as an American in Germany
14 facts you never knew about the Brandenburg Gate
Society
Ten times Germans proved they really, really love beer
Sponsored Article
Why Jordan is the ‘Different’ East
Lifestyle
What's on in Germany: events for August 2016
Sponsored Article
Five things Americans should know about voting abroad
National
Six things you need to know when moving to Germany
Travel
These 10 little-known German towns are a must see
Sponsored Article
Jordan Pass: your ticket to the experience of a lifetime
International
German scientists prove birds can sleep while flying
Sponsored Article
Jordan: where history meets adventure
Technology
London v. Berlin: Which is better for startups?
Lifestyle
13 mortifying mistakes German learners always make
Sponsored Article
6 reasons expats use TransferWise to send money
Travel
Enter if you dare: Berlin's best abandoned haunts
Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
Lifestyle
10 rookie errors all Brits make when they arrive in Germany
Sponsored Article
Five things Americans should know about voting abroad
National
How to get German citizenship (or just stay forever)
Sponsored Article
Jordan: where history meets adventure
Technology
Brexit will turn Berlin into 'Europe’s startup capital'
Sponsored Article
6 reasons expats use TransferWise to send money
Travel
Six soothing day trips to escape the bustle of Berlin
International
'Germany needs to make UK come to its senses'
Features
Six odd things Germans do in the summer
Features
How two gay dads cut through German red tape to start a family
8,647
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd