In her annual summer press conference, the German chancellor had critical words for the European Union and Turkey. But with Germany heading to the polls in 26 days, she was careful not to say anything controversial.
As the incumbent, conservative Angela Merkel has the advantage of getting additional press coverage when she exercises the duties of her office, for instance, by holding her traditional summer press conference. As she fielded reporters’ questions on Tuesday in Berlin, the lines between Merkel the chancellor and Merkel the candidate weren’t always clearly demarcated.
Merkel began by addressing the topic that is perhaps her Achilles’ heel, migration. She said that she had met with the leaders of France, Italy, Spain and several North African states to talk about how they could prevent human trafficking and stem the flow of migrants in the Mediterranean.
She added that the leaders had agreed upon a “common fight against the Mediterranean route” along the lines of the pact to control migration between the European Union and Turkey. But she didn’t provide any specifics.
When asked whether in her heart of hearts she was a chancellor who welcomed refugees or sought to block the flow of migrants to Europe, Merkel said that the waves of refugees in 2015 was a humanitarian “exception” that had required immediate action and not the basis of a long-term strategy. And she criticized Germany’s EU partners for not pulling their weight.
“Europe hasn’t done its homework,” Merkel said. “We still don’t have a fair system of distribution [of refugees]. We still have a lot to do in this regard. We have to combat the reasons for people fleeing. We need agreements with various African countries. This proceeds from the same spirit as our emergency humanitarian assistance.”
Merkel added that Germany could not seal itself off and would have to engage with the economic problems in other countries, calling the migrant issue a “global problem.”