German Chancellor Angela Merkel acknowledged the high security threats facing her country, but continued to firmly defend her open-arms policy on refugees Wednesday, the Guardian reported. With about 1 million refugees expected in Germany by the end of the year, the domestic grumbling about Merkel’s policy has risen in the wake of the terrorist attacks in Paris.
“The strongest response to terrorists is to carry on living our lives and our values as we have until now -- self-confident and free, considerate and engaged,” Merkel said in addressing the Bundestag, the lower house of the country’s parliament. “But simply sealing ourselves off will not solve the problem.” The chancellor, who has been in power for a decade, urged not only Germans but also other Europeans to “show our free life is stronger than any terror.”
Dealing with this terrorist threat, France has increased security after the assaults in Paris Nov. 13 left 130 people dead and more than 350 wounded. The Islamic State group, formerly known as either ISIL or ISIS, claimed responsibility for the attacks. Salah Abdeslam, one of those suspected of carrying them out, remains at large.
Merkel’s open-arms policy has cost her politically, with a developing split in Germany’s right-left coalition and erosion in her approval ratings, which recently have been the lowest since the global financial crisis became apparent in 2008. The German leader stressed the importance of working to resolve the Syrian Civil War, the main trigger of the refugee crisis now faced by the 28-member European Union. The EU agreed to a quota system for refugees, but, because of the terrorist attacks in Paris, Poland has called for a review of the quota plan.
Although winter weather has inhibited the flow of refugees crossing the Mediterranean Sea in recent days, they have continued to flee conflict areas and repressive states, such as Afghanistan, Eritrea and Iraq, as well as Syria, the International Organization for Migration reported.
Merkel was scheduled to head to Paris Wednesday to meet with French President Francois Hollande. Since the terrorist attacks in Paris, France has increased its airstrikes on the Islamic State group in Syria. Meanwhile, Germany said Wednesday it would send 650 soldiers to Mali to assist the French-led peacekeeping operations after a terrorist attack in the capital of Bamako Friday.