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German minister rebuffs Trump's comments on refugee policy

Sertan SandersonAugust 17, 2016

A German government minister has criticized Donald Trump for his remarks on Chancellor Angela Merkel's refugee policy. Trump had wrongly claimed there had been an increase in crime since the onset of the migrant crisis.

Michael Roth
Image: picture-alliance/dpa/B. v. Jutrczenka

Germany's European affairs minister Michael Roth told the Reuters news agency that statements made by US Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump about Germany's reaction to the refugee influx were incorrect. The German politician said it was important to correct such campaign statements made in other countries, even if they didn't affect Germany directly.

"I'm sorry that the Republican presidential candidate trumpets out things like that without any factual basis," Roth told Reuters.

Donald Trump
Trump's remarks about his opponents and rivals have grown increasingly hostileImage: Reuters/E.Thayer

"If he had studied the actual situation in Germany, he would know that, while the many refugees who came to Germany and Europe pose a big challenge for us, and everything is still not completely resolved, they have not led to a massive increase in crime rates," Reuters further quoted the minister as saying.

Roth added that Germany remains a peaceful country where people treat each other with respect, while efforts to integrate refugees into broader society continue. He also stressed that Trump's comments were based on "fears, lies and half-truths", while underlining the importance of the US election and its outcome for the entire world, adding that many governments around the world had commended Germany for its refugee policy.

Casting Hillary Clinton as the American Angela Merkel

Trump had said earlier that German Chancellor Angela Merkel's decision to welcome more than a million refugees to Germany in 2015 was a "disaster." He had made the comments during a campaign rally in Ohio earlier in the week, likening his Democratic rival Hillary Clinton to the German leader.

"In short, Hillary Clinton wants to be America's Angela Merkel and you know what a disaster this massive immigration has been to Germany and the people of Germany," Trump said in his statement.

"Crime has risen to levels that no one thought they would ever, ever see. It is a catastrophe."

Statistics compiled by the German Interior Ministry showed that the number of crimes reported in 2015 remained essentially unchanged from the previous year (excluding visa and other immigration violations).

Political games

Many international observers have noted that Trump's accusations primarily serve his goal to polarizing public opinion, with the real estate mogul deliberately taking opposite position of his opponent, who is known for keeping good relations with the German Chancellor. In addition to Clinton, incumbent US President Barack Obama has also spoken in favor of Merkel's policy, saying that Germany was acting on the right side of history.

Trump had also made remarks earlier in August, saying that Clinton and Obama were the founders of the so-called "Islamic State" terrorist organization (IS), for which he reaped a great deal of criticism.

Another prominent German politician, Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, also spoke out against Trump earlier in August, calling the presidential hopeful a "hate preacher." German Chancellor Merkel has largely kept herself out of the public discourse about the US elections.

Trump lashes out at Hillary Clinton

ss/kl (Reuters)