Europe migrant crisis: Germany and Egypt agree deal to stem migrant flow

TAHA JAWASHI  AFP  Getty Images

Mrs Merkel said she has no regrets over her refugee policy, which saw Germany controversially open its doors to hundreds of thousands of refugees two years ago, despite the deep rifts the decision caused in her party.

"I would take all the important decisions of 2015 the same way again", she told Germany's Welt am Sonntag newspaper, saying they had been necessary to "avert a humanitarian catastrophe".

A day after discussing the continuing influx of migrants with leaders from Africa and other European countries, Merkel tackled head-on an issue that once looked as if it would be a liability for her in Germany's September 24 election.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel's main election opponent stepped up his attacks on her record, portraying her as slow to tackle the country's diesel-car crisis, soft on Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and out of touch with voters.

"We demand the release of Deniz Yücel, Peter Steudtner and Mesale Tolu", Merkel said in reference to three German citizens (a journalist, a human rights activist and a translator, respectively) imprisoned in Turkey.

"It's a good thought that would create more stability and show the world that we have all the mechanisms in our portfolio to react to unexpected situations", she said.

In Berlin on Tuesday, Dr Merkel insisted that a plan to review asylum claims in Chad or Niger was about tackling human trafficking across the Mediterranean Sea, not pushing the refugee crisis back into Africa. At the same time, she clarified that she was not in a position to promise anything to the Greeks, since she was not a Greek politician.


[R] efugees should be distributed among the European Union member states in solidarity, she said.

But she says "Europe itself still hasn't done its homework to this day", with some countries refusing to accept a share of the refugees arriving in Europe.

"We say clearly: no coalition with the AfD and no coalition with the Left", Merkel said, underscoring her party's standard line on potential future governing alliances.

It was only the second campaign appearance by Merkel in formerly communist eastern Germany, where anti-foreigner sentiment is especially pronounced. Mr Schulz, who doesn't have a position in Ms Merkel's administration, has said it's the government's job to avoid driving bans.

Despite surging in the polls, the German leader faces some serious public backlash on her campaign trail.

"Assad is stronger than I would like him to be", she admitted.

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