Merkel Says EU Intentions Won't Suffice to Solve Refugee Crisis

  • German chancellor chides EU partners days before summit
  • Merkel's party facing three state elections in March

German Chancellor Angela Merkel criticized her European Union partners for a lack of support in the region’s refugee crisis, three days before she meets other EU leaders to discuss a resettlement plan that many aren’t backing.

“Everyone wants to protect the outer border” of the EU against uncontrolled migration, Merkel said Monday at a campaign rally in Baden-Wuerttemberg state, where voters go to the polls on March 13. “But not everyone is telling me how exactly we’re supposed to do that.”

As EU governments bicker over how to deal with the biggest influx since World War II, Germany is turning to Turkey and a subgroup of EU countries to help channel and resettle refugees from Syria’s civil war. Merkel said she’ll take stock of her effort to curb the influx after an EU summit that starts on Thursday.

QuickTake Europe’s Refugee Crisis

“Maybe others will follow our lead,” she said in the southern town of Weingarten.

The chancellor renewed her message that Europe can’t afford to reverse free travel and commerce to ward off refugees, rejecting a reinstatement of full-fledged border controls in Germany that some in her coalition advocate. Evoking her life behind the Berlin Wall in isolated, communist East Germany until 1989, she said: “I always say, I lived in the GDR -- the border controls were even better there.”

The refugee crisis has eroded Merkel’s approval ratings, posing the biggest threat to her chancellorship since she took office in 2005. While Germany “can’t offer asylum to everyone in the world,” Germans should try to face the challenge with “a friendly face,” she said.

The rally was Merkel’s first this year in the southwestern state -- home to Daimler AG and Porsche AG -- which her Christian Democratic Union lost to the Greens five years ago. Rhineland-Palatinate and the eastern region of Saxony-Anhalt also go to the polls on March 13.