Merkel Stands Ground on Refugees as 1.5 Million Seen Coming

  • More than 900,000 could arrive in fourth quarter, Bild says
  • Chancellor rebuffs Bavarian critics urging cap on asylum

Chancellor Angela Merkel said Germany has to live with the mass influx of refugees, confronting critics within her party bloc amid a media report that as many as 1.5 million people may arrive this year.

As Merkel faces pressure inside her governing coalition for capping migration to Europe’s biggest economy, Bild newspaper, citing official estimates of the number of daily arrivals, said Monday that more than 900,000 people could make their way to Germany in the final three months. So far, the government has estimated 800,000 would arrive in all of 2015.

Angela Merkel

Photographer: Krisztian Bocsi/Bloomberg

“It doesn’t make much sense to get angry because we have this problem now -- or to say, ‘Where is this coming from? I want the problem to go away,’” Merkel said in an interview with Deutschlandfunk radio on Sunday. “We have to accept it, to control it and at the same time make sure we address weak spots.”

As Europe faces its biggest refugee crisis since the end of World War II, Germany has become the destination of choice, including for war refugees from Syria. Regional and municipal governments could face a collapse of infrastructure needed to shelter the newcomers, Bild quotes the document as saying.

Germany’s Interior Ministry declined to comment on the document’s content. Estimates shouldn’t be based on daily or weekly arrivals and the flow of migrants is expect to slow during the winter months, ministry spokesman Harald Neymanns told reporters in Berlin.

Upper Limit

Bavaria’s Christian Social Union, the sister party of Merkel’s Christian Democrats, is publicly criticizing the chancellor after tens of thousands of refugees entered the state from Austria.

Bavarian Finance Minister Markus Soeder called for a limit on migration, including a cap on the number of people receiving asylum, according to the newspaper Passauer Neue Presse.

“The limits of our capacity have already been reached,” Gerda Hasselfeldt, the leader of the CSU group in Germany’s lower house of parliament, told Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung.

Merkel said Germany’s asylum law, which sets no upper limit, won’t change. She rejected calls to stop the flow of migrants.

“I don’t think fences help, that’s useless. We saw that in Hungary,” Merkel said, referring to the Hungarian government’s decision to build a razor-wire fence along its border with Serbia to repel migrants. “The refugees come anyway and look for other ways.”

Turkey’s Role

As the 28-nation European Union squabbles over its response, Merkel has singled out Turkey as a possible partner, saying the country needs to help secure its border with Greece. Merkel and French President Francois Hollande plan to address the refugee crisis when they both speak to the European Parliament on Wednesday.

“Given the circumstances of globalization, I’m calling on us to open up to a certain extent and to become acquainted with different cultural characteristics,” Merkel said in the radio interview.

For more, read this QuickTake: Europe’s Refugee Crisis

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