Clooney Backs Merkel's Refugee Policy During Chancellery Chat

  • Hollywood actor and wife Amal met Merkel in Berlin on Friday
  • Clooney in German capital to promote new film at Berlinale

Chancellor Angela Merkel, facing the biggest challenge of her decade in power over the refugee crisis, has a famous friend backing her open-door policy for asylum seekers.

George Clooney, in the German capital to promote his new movie at the Berlinale film festival, lent his support to the beleaguered chancellor during a 30-minute meeting at the chancellery on Friday to discuss the flood of people pouring into Europe from war-torn regions. Also attending was Clooney’s wife Amal, a Lebanese-born human rights lawyer, and David Miliband, the former British foreign secretary who heads the International Rescue Committee. Albert Einstein founded the group in 1933 to assist those fleeing the Nazis.

“Germany is taking on a great responsibility, it’s very difficult politically for her,” Clooney told a local television station on Thursday, shortly before a screening of his movie "Hail, Caesar," which kicked off the 66th annual Berlinale. Clooney said he "absolutely agrees” with Merkel’s refugee policy, German newswire DPA reported.

Merkel has faced increasing pressure over her welcoming stance toward refugees, which her detractors argue helped fuel an influx of more than 1 million asylum seekers into the country last year. The chancellor’s spokesman, Steffen Seibert, posted a picture on Twitter Friday of Clooney in a dark suit and tie sitting at a coffee table with Merkel.

"We talked about how NGOs and governments can work together when it comes to the reasons behind people fleeing their home countries, and how they can encourage people to get involved,” Merkel told reporters Friday. "It was a very good discussion.”

Berlinale Films

The Berlinale is showing several films that chronicle the plight of people fleeing war and poverty, from "Houses Without Doors," a Syrian documentary about Aleppo disintegrating into civil war to "Meteorstrasse," a movie that details the difficulties of a young Palestinian refugee coping with daily life in Germany.

While "Fire at Sea," a European documentary about Italy’s refugee-swamped island Lampedusa, is competing for the top prizes that will be awarded on Feb. 20, Clooney said it will take time for Hollywood to tackle the issue with its own films.

“The unfortunate thing about the film community is we react to situations much more than we lead the way,” he told reporters Thursday.

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