Merkel defends Germany's migrant policy change

2015-11-13 20:05


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Berlin - Chancellor Angela Merkel, under fire from German conservatives for her handling of the European migration crisis, on Friday defended her government's decision to deport refugees who first registered in another EU country.

The Interior Ministry said on Tuesday that Germany has been sending refugees back to the first EU country in which they registered since October 21 - a return to the Dublin Regulation that Merkel suspended in late August with her open-arms policy.

Registered entry

In defending the change of course, Merkel said the enforcement of the rule applied to a few cases.

"The fraction of those cases is small compared to the overall numbers arriving," she told reporters after a meeting with visiting Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.

Returning migrants to their first point of official registered entry would help achieve fair distribution in Europe, Merkel said.

"The countries at the outer borders of the EU should not have to bear more than their share of the burden, but they should also not bear less than their fair share," the chancellor said, noting that countries of first landfall were registering migrants "too rarely at the moment."

A Merkel spokesperson said she would meet the Austrian Chancellor Werner Faymann in Berlin to discuss the migration crisis next week.

Merkel confirmed she discussed refugee issues as part of discussions about Syria with Turnbull.

Migration issue

In coping with the current migration crisis, the European Union faces the prime problem of a narrow seaway separating Turkey and Greece "that is effectively in the hands of traffickers," Merkel said.

"We are working to overcome this and we are doing this in co-operation with Turkey," Merkel said. She and other EU leaders are planning a special summit with Ankara in late November or early December on the migration issue.

"I think we are on the right path," the chancellor added.

"Each country faces different circumstances, not least of which are geographic," Turnbull said. "It's for the German government, just as it is for the Australian government, to manage these challenges in their own way."

Read more on:    angela merkel  |  australia  |  germany  |  refugees

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