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Merkel: situation in Germany ‘much improved’ in past year

“We have just been through a year that demanded a lot from us. But the situation now is so much better than it was a year ago,” the Chancellor told the Bundestag in a discussion which was actually on the federal budget.

Merkel mentioned reinforcement of the Frontex EU border defence agency, a new NATO mission in the Mediterranean and a refugee deal signed with Turkey in March as evidence of progress in coping with an influx of migrants into Europe.

“If you don’t want to leave smugglers to have free reign and you don’t want to let people drown, then you have to talk to your neighbours,” she said in reference to the EU-Turkey deal, which has been criticized by the opposition due to Turkey’s worsening human rights situation. 

“Since the deal has been signed almost no one has died in the Aegean.”

In the deal signed between the EU and Turkey, the parties agreed that for every refugee sent back from Greece to Turkey, the EU would accept a refugee from its neighbour.

The number of refugees arriving in Germany has dropped off drastically since March, but analysts attribute this to a number of factors including Balkan countries effectively blocking off the route through southern Europe into Germany by erecting border fences.

Merkel is facing one of the trickiest periods in her 11-year Chancellorship, with recent polling putting her popularity at a five-year low.

A shock election result in the northeastern state of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania on Sunday where Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU) came third to the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) did nothing to ease the pressure.

But, during her speech Merkel called on her coalition partners to show solidarity, describing the AfD as “a challenge for everyone in this house.”

“If we try and win small advantages over one another so that we look clean when the elections come around, the only people who will win are those who deploy slogans and simple answers.”

In recent days Horst Seehofer, head of the CDU’s Bavarian sister party the Christian Social Union (CSU), has pointed the finger for the election defeat at Merkel, describing her “Berlin politics” as out of touch with the German public.

Vice-Chancellor and head of the Social Democrats Sigmar Gabriel has also accused Merkel of repeating her “Wir schaffen das” (we’ll manage it) mantra, without doing anything constructive.

“Politicians like us have a responsibility to moderate our speech,” Merkel cautioned. “If we begin to orientate our speech and acts towards those who are not interested in solutions, we will lose our own direction in the end.

“If we resist that and stick with the truth, then we will regain what’s most important – the trust of the people,” she said.

The Chancellor ended her speech by reiterating comments she made previously to a national newspaper, that “Germany will remain Germany – with everything that we love and cherish.”

With AFP

Article source: http://www.thelocal.de/20160907/merkel-situation-in-germany-huge-improvement-on-year-ago