Merkel defends having opened borders to refugees a year ago

Berlin, Sep 3 (IANS) German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Saturday that she does not regret having opened the borders a year ago to allow entry to thousands of refugees who had been stuck in Hungary.

Germany had assumed humanitarian responsibility, Merkel told German newspaper Bild, a year after Berlin and Vienna agreed to allow thousands of asylum seekers free passage into their nations, Efe news reported.

Borders were not open to all, but to those in great humanitarian need who had walked all the way from Hungary, Merkel said, adding that some decisions have to be taken without opinion polls.

Regarding criticism and fear on the part of German citizens on the integration of hundreds of thousands of migrants, Merkel acknowledged that it would not be easy, but considered it possible.

New arrivals would have to learn the language, respect laws and accept constitutional principles, she said.

Merkel defended the European Union agreement with Ankara over the repatriation of refugees to Turkey, saying that it had limited human trafficking and improved living conditions in Turkish refugee camps.

In order to abolish visa requirements for Turkish citizens, she said Ankara would need to fulfil all of the criteria established by the EU, something that it has not yet done.

About 1.1 million refugees entered Germany in 2015.

–IANS

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