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German Chancellor defends refugee policy

September 3, 2015

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has rejected comments from Hungary's prime minister that the migrant crisis in Europe is Germany's problem alone. Merkel said coping with war refugees was a European-wide obligation.

Schweiz Besuch Angela Merkel & Simonetta Sommaruga
Swiss President Simonetta Sommaruga and German Chancellor Angela Merkel (L)Image: Reuters/D. Balibouse

During her visit to Switzerland on Thursday, Chancellor Angela Merkel told journalists that "Germany is doing what is morally and legally required of it. Nothing more, nothing less," referring to the refugee crisis.

The Chancellor also rejected Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban's statements that German migration policy was not strict enough.

Orban called the refugee influx "a German problem rather than a European one," adding that his government had taken all steps possible to comply with European Union regulations in dealing with an ongoing influx of migrants traveling through Hungary.

The Chancellor also urged Hungary to comply with the Geneva Conventions regarding the treatment of war refugees. "These are agreements that all EU member states are obligated to, not just Germany," she said. "This is a problem that concerns us all."

The refugee crisis and Switzerland's relations to the European Union were the focus of Merkel's visit to Switzerland. The Alpine, land-locked country is not a member of the EU.

France and Germany

France and Germany are to make joint proposals on how to host refugees and distribute them fairly across Europe, President Francois Hollande's office said in a statement on Thursday after a telephone conversation between Hollande and Merkel.

"The European Union must act in a decisive manner and in line with its values," the statement said. "These men and women, with their families, are fleeing war and persecution. They need international protection."

The statement added that the two countries wanted to converge standards to strengthen the European asylum system, ensure the return of illegal migrants back to their country of origin and to provide necessary support to nations where migrants come from and the countries they pass through.

dr/jm (dpa, Reuters)