Trump attacks Angela Merkel for giving sanctuary to refugees

US president claims migration has 'strongly and violently' changed European culture

Jon Stone
Europe Correspondent
Monday 18 June 2018 15:24 BST
Donald Trump attacks Angela Merkel for giving sanctuary to refugees

Donald Trump has criticised his European allies over the refugee crisis, claiming that the people of Germany are “turning against” Angela Merkel’s leadership.

The US president claimed refugees and migrants has “strongly and violently” changed European culture and said the continent had made a “big mistake” in giving sanctuary to those fleeing conflicts in the Middle East and Africa.

Without specifically naming the German chancellor but instead pointing the blame at Germany’s “leadership” he said: “The people of Germany are turning against their leadership as migration is rocking the already tenuous Berlin coalition.

“Crime in Germany is way up. Big mistake made all over Europe in allowing millions of people in who have so strongly and violently changed their culture!”

Mr Trump is wrong to say that crime in Germany has increased: the latest figures released last month show it has now reached a 30-year low.

Ms Merkel is embroiled in a domestic political row with her conservative allies over how to handle new refugee arrivals, with one of her most senior ministers calling for a more restrictive policy.

The chancellor bought time on Monday by getting her interior minister Horst Seehofer to agree to pause the rollout of a harsher policy until after a meeting of European leaders in Brussels later this month.

The people of Germany are turning against their leadership as migration is rocking the already tenuous Berlin coalition.

Donald Trump, US president

Mr Seehofer, a Bavarian conservative who has the backing of his local state government, wants refugees who have already registered in another country to be turned away at Germany’s borders.

The chancellor, however, reportedly wants any change in refugee or migration policy to be conducted at a European level, fearing that Germany going it alone could result in a free-for-all of countries enacting a patchwork of contradictory approaches.

Migration is set to be a major discussion point at the European Council meeting on 28 and 29 June, with the issue a major priority of Austria’s right-wing government, which holds the rotating presidency of the pan-EU body.

Ms Merkel’s Bavarian allies are generally more right-wing than other Germany conservatives, but the party also has regional elections coming up in the autumn: it fears losing ground to the far-right AfD party, which had MPs elected to the Bundestag for the first time in 2017. Bavaria is also in the southeast of Germany and is thus one of the main entry points for refugees arriving overland in the country through the Balkans.

The US president’s intervention could be useful domestically for Ms Merkel because of his unpopularity: just 11 per cent of Germany has a favourable view of Mr Trump, according to research by pollster Pew for the Germany public broadcaster DW.

Earlier this month German MPs called for the US ambassador to their country, Richard Grenell, to be expelled, after he said he told a far-right news website he wanted to “strengthen” right-wing movements in his host country.

After last week’s G7 summit in Canada, Ms Merkel’s office released a photograph of the chancellor squaring off against an embattled-looking Mr Trump, backed by other world leaders.

Mr Trump’s intervention in European politics comes as he faces criticism at home for a hardline immigration policy, having long been an advocate of building a wall along the entire US-Mexican border. Meanwhile, pictures have emerged recently of US officials keeping undocumented migrants in cages, with questions also being raised over the apparently routine separation of children from their parents at the border.

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