Merkel Says She Wouldn't Change Her Decision to Open German Borders

Sigmar Gabriel German Minister for Economic Affairs delivers a speech

Angela Merkel has said she has no qualms about her decision to open Germany's doors to refugees in 2015, arguing that the policy was "humane" and a reaction to an emergency situation.

More than a million migrants have arrived in Germany over the past two years since Mrs. Merkel suspended European Union border rules and said her nation would take "no upper limit" of new arrivals.

Founded in 2013 as an anti-euro party, the AfD shifted its focus after the euro zone debt crisis peaked to campaigning against immigration after Merkel's move in 2015 to open the borders to a flood of migrants, many from the Middle East.

"This has definitely generated some self-confidence", Merkel said.

Merkel's remarks, less than a month before the German election, suggest she has little appetite for the kind of sweeping overhaul of the eurozone that countries such as France have been advocating.

"It's a good thought that would create more stability and show the world that we have all the mechanisms in our portfolio to react to unexpected situations", she said.

Merkel's main challenger was questioned in a separate interview on ARD Television.

Asked about the European Commission's plan announced in May not to continue the controls beyond November, Merkel said she would call for their extension during talks with its chief Jean-Claude Juncker on Wednesday. She is expected to be comfortably returned as the country's leader, though the right-wing populist AfD is also expected to have MPs elected to the Bundestag for the first time.

The statement further said that Germany would also help Cairo to improve conditions of facilities designated for Syrian refugees and other displaced people in Egypt, adding that both countries further agreed to work more closely to mount crackdown on human traffickers, who bring desperate refugees into Europe through perilous Mediterranean routs.

She added this was also true for other detained Germans whose cases had not garnered as much public attention.

[R] efugees should be distributed among the European Union member states in solidarity, she said.

Merkel on Saturday encountered fierce protest in an election campaign rally in Quedlinburg in eastern Germany's state of Saxony-Anhalt, where the anti-foreigner sentiment is obviously strong. This centre would be in Egypt, a transit country for migrants striving to reach Europe.

He homed in on a report in news magazine Der Spiegel at the weekend which claimed that Merkel was using police and army helicopters on the campaign trail but that her party was only paying a fraction of market rates.

In Saturday's speech Merkel made it clear that refugees were welcome in Germany even though she conceded there could not be a repeat of the influx.

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