05:42 GMT +318 June 2019
Listen Live
    This combination of file photos created on January 16, 2017 shows US President-elect Donald Trump (top, November 19, 2016 in Bedminster, New Jersey) and German Chancellor Angela Merkel (September 14, 2016 in Berlin).

    Merkel Stands Firm on Terrorism, Migrants in Face of Trump Attack

    © AFP 2019 / Tobias Schwarz, Don Emmert
    Europe
    Get short URL
    6512

    German Chancellor Angela Merkel - already under pressure at home over terrorism and her "open doors" refugee policy - has hit back at remarks by US President-elect Donald Trump, who criticized her migrant policy as a "catastrophic mistake."

    The issue of migrants was already a political hot potato for Merkel who drew plaudits for initially offering refuge to those fleeing warzones, but who is now under pressure to show leadership in the face of terrorism and uncontrolled migration. 

    "I think she made one very catastrophic mistake and that was taking all of these illegals, you know, taking all of the people from wherever they come from. And nobody even knows where they come from. So I think she made a catastrophic mistake, very bad mistake," Trump told the German newspaper Bild am Sonntag.

    This combination of file photos created on January 16, 2017 shows US President-elect Donald Trump (December 16, 2016 in Orlando, Florida) and German Chancellor Angela Merkel (R, March 9, 2014 in Hanover).
    © AFP 2019 / John Macdougall, Jim Watson
    This combination of file photos created on January 16, 2017 shows US President-elect Donald Trump (December 16, 2016 in Orlando, Florida) and German Chancellor Angela Merkel (R, March 9, 2014 in Hanover).

    Election Sensitivity

    However, Merkel hit back, accusing Trump of conflating two separate issues.

    "I would clearly separate (terrorism) from the existence of refugees in relation to the Syrian civil war… the majority of Syrians left their country because of the civil war, because of the fight against [Syrian President Bashar al-] Assad or the oppression by Assad," she said.

    Merkel came under pressure over the migrant crisis from within her own coalition party (CDU/CSU) for refusing to put a cap in the number of refugees Germany will take in. The original influx in 2015 caused chaos, with many German states — particularly Bavaria — struggling to cope with the asylum applications.

    Police patrols at the reopened Christmas market near the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church in Berlin on December 22, 2016
    © AFP 2019 / CLEMENS BILAN
    Police patrols at the reopened Christmas market near the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church in Berlin on December 22, 2016

    However, since the terrorist attack in which a man known as Anis Amri drove a truck into a crowd of people at a Christmas market in Berlin, Germany, December 19, killing 12 and injuring 56, the issue of security and migration has come to the fore.

    Amri arrived for the first time in Europe in 2011 on a refugee raft, served time in prison in Sicily, was known to the German authorities and had been refused asylum in Germany, but was still able to wander freely around the country ahead of the terrorist attack.

    Merkel is facing an election in the fall of 2017 and her popularity is at a five-year low. Trump's intervention on such a sensitive issue will put a strain on Berlin-Washington relations. However, Merkel said she would work with Trump.

    "When he is in office, and at the moment that's not the case, we will work with the new American government and see what kind of agreements we can reach," she said.

    Related:

    NATO's Attitude to Turkey Proves 'Trump is Right' Calling it 'Obsolete'
    Trump's Remark on NATO 'Delegitimizes' the Alliance as a 'Relic of the Past'
    Trump's NATO Remarks 'Real Mistake' as Alliance Important to US
    Merkel Says EU’s Fate is in Its Own Hands After Trump’s Remark on 'Smart' Brexit
    Trump Says Confidence in Merkel, Putin May Not Last Long
    Tags:
    open door policy, refugee crisis, migrant crisis, terrorism, German federal election 2017, German Bundestag, Christian Democratic Union/Christian Social Union (CDU/CSU), Angela Merkel, Donald Trump, Germany, Europe, United States, Berlin
    Community standardsDiscussion
    Comment via FacebookComment via Sputnik