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In Halle, German Greens stand for refugees and against terror

One Greens co-leader takes aim at Chancellor Angela Merkel's refugee policy. The other criticizes failures in the fight against terrorism. Simone Peter and Cem Özdemir will try to return the Greens to government in 2017.

As the party began its annual congress, co-leader Simone Peter told assembled Greens in Halle that Merkel caved in to the right-wing Christian Social Union on refugee policy. Peter said Merkel had made a courageous decision by opening Germany's borders to refugees in summer - a decision that had earned the chancellor more support from the Greens than from the CSU or her own Christian Democrats (CDU).

The CSU, Peter said, demanded an "apology" from the chancellor, "and step by step Merkel relents." The Greens leader also accused the CSU of using last week's killings in Paris as "capital to attack and fan fear against refugees." She added: "We cannot make refugees the scapegoats for the murders in Paris."

Friday's biggest news came as no surprise. Peter, the co-candidate for the chancellery in 2013, and Cem Özdemir, who has shared Greens leadership duties since 2008, will attempt to return the party to government in 2017 - for the first time since 2005. It was then that Merkel had begun her reign, presiding over a grand coalition with the Social Democrats, just like Germany has today.

"The Merkel slumber is over," Peter said. "Ten years are enough."

'Hypocrisy and duplicity'

Co-leader Özdemir said Germany and allies must examine their relationship with Saudi Arabia and other petrol states where arms go and from which oil flows. After attacks in Paris and Mali and with a multinational alliance against the "Islamic State" (IS) in Syria, terror has figured high on the agendas of the German party congresses that began Friday.

For as long as "this hypocrisy and duplicity" continued, Özdemir told his fellow Greens, there would be no success in the fight against terror groups that have their roots in the Middle East. "Saudi Wahhabism is not part of the problem," Özdemir added, referring to a 19th-century Islamic fundamentalism embraced by the country's ruling monarchy. "It is the source of the problem."

Özdemir spoke in favor of a well-equipped police force and a national intelligence service with democratic oversight, with information-sharing between such law enforcement agencies.

In her speech, Peter had also criticized the international management of the fight against IS and similar groups: "The war on terror has only nurtured more terror," she told the Greens.

mkg/jm (AFP, dpa)

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