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Tusk: Germany must lead refugee crisis efforts

November 10, 2015

European Council President Tusk has said that Europe's future rests largely on Germany's approach to the mass influx of refugees to the EU. The former Polish PM hailed German Chancellor Merkel's open-door policy.

Griechenland Flüchtlingsnot auf Lesbos
Image: Reuters/A. Konstantinidis

Addressing crowds in the German capital to commemorate the 26th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin wall, European Council President Donald Tusk said Europe's future depends on Germany's approach to the mass influx of migrants fleeing war-torn countries in the Middle East, Asia and Africa.

"Indeed, whether Europe survives as a continent of freedom, the rule of law, respect of an individual, and the security of its inhabitants will depend to a great extent on Germans," Tusk said.

Europe has in 2015 struggled to cope with the largest migration crisis since World War II, with Germany projected to receive between 800,000 to one million migrants in 2015.

"Those who believe that Germany is too open, too tolerant, too liberal, forgot to do their homework about our tragic history," Tusk noted in Berlin.

Tusk: Germany key to Europe's future

'Signals from Berlin'

Amid waning approval ratings and encumbered refugee facilities, German Chancellor Angela Merkel has pushed for a cohesive approach to tackling the influx of migrants affecting the 28-nation bloc.

However, she has come under fire from conservative allies, such as Bavarian Governor Horst Seehofer, for her open-door policy towards refugees, especially those originating from Syria.

Merkel has also called on EU member states to express more solidarity in tackling the wave of migration, which has prompted former Eastern bloc countries - including Hungary and the Czech Republic - to build border fences and reinstate border controls.

"Do you want a Germany that is open, tolerant, compassionate, sympathizing with the weaker and the poorer, in other words the Germany of Angela Merkel, or a Germany which is closed, cold and ruthless? There is only one answer," Tusk added.

"Let us not fool ourselves. The fall of the Berlin wall did not automatically abolish the need for borders as such," the European Council president said.

"But even so, everybody will be looking up to you, watching out for signals coming from Berlin."

ls/jm (Reuters, dpa)