The German Chancellor interrupted her summer holidays to defend her open-door refugee policy following recent attacks in Germany.
At a press conference Angela Merkel expressed her sorrow about the recent killings in Germany and elsewhere, but stood by her policy on accepting asylum seekers saying:
“The terrorists want to make us lose sight of what is important to us, break down our cohesion and sense of community as well as inhibiting our way of life, our openness and our willingness take in people who are in need.”
Although she admitted that integration posed a challenge she repeated her mantra ‘Wir schaffen das’, ‘We can do this’.
Germany has been rocked by a shooting spree, an axe attack, a knife attack and a suicide bombing which has left 13 dead and many wounded. Two attackers were asylum seekers with links to Islamist militants.
Critics have attacked Merkel’s decision to allow refugees to enter the country, saying there were insufficient checks. Nearly 1.1 million people, mainly from Syria, came to Germany in 2015.
She announced that there must be an early alert system during the asylum process, adding the government must take the ‘challenge of integration very seriously’.
The Bavarian interior minister Joachim Herrmann told reporters that “Islamist terrorism has unfortunately arrived in Bavaria.”
To meet the challenge of terror she announced new measures. These included training the army to participate in the case of serious terror threats, (within what is constitutionally allowed), widening the scope of research into how people become radicalised, introducing an early alert system in the asylum process as well as extended information sharing and tackling online arms dealing.
When questioned by a reporter on the failed coup in Turkey and the ensuing crackdown on the military, judiciary, civil service and media, Merkel said Turkey should show proportionality in pursuit of the suspected coup plotters.
“Of course, when a putsch attempt like this takes place in a country it is important to take action against the rebels with all the means and potential of the constitutional state,” she told the news conference.
But she added that she is following the situation closely adding that ‘the principle of proportionality must be ensured by all.