Dec 31

Merkel Decries “Distorted Picture” Of Refugee Policy, Claims “Our State Is Stronger Together”:

In an awkwardly similar rhetoric to the failed slogan of Hillary Clinton, German Chancellor Angela Merkel told her nation that “together, we are stronger. Our state is stronger,” giving no ground on her increasingly questioned open-border refugee policy as she slammed the “distorted picture” being painted by populists.

Chancellor Angela Merkel urged Germans to stay calm in the face of Islamist terrorism and, as Bloomberg reports, criticized nationalists for offering false hopes of security, signaling she’ll count on voters to opt for stability when she runs for a fourth term in 2017.

In her New Year’s Eve speech to the nation, Merkel predicted a contentious political climate in a year that’ll include Donald Trump’s inauguration as U.S. president on Jan. 20 and elections in France and the Netherlands.

“As we pursue our lives and our work, we tell the terrorists: They are murderers full of hatred, but it’s not they who determine how we live and want to live,” Merkel said, according to an advance copy of the nationally televised speech on Saturday. “We are free, humane, open. Together, we are stronger. Our state is stronger.”

Merkel’s comments reflect the surge in political risks to her chancellorship, though she may benefit because she’s familiar to voters and has no obvious successor after 11 years in office.

Merkel gave no ground on her open-border refugee policy and took aim at populists who question the value of the European Union “or even of parliamentary democracy itself.”

“What a distorted picture,” she said. While the EU should focus on tasks it can truly do better than national governments, “we Germans should never let ourselves be tricked into believing that going it alone as a nation could lead to a happy future,” Merkel said.

Merkel sought to push back against her critics, saying she’ll work for a political debate “where we argue passionately about many things, but always as democrats,” with criticism voiced “peacefully and with respect for the individual.”

Merkel has become the target of online vilification and an unprecedented political challenge by the anti-immigration Alternative for Germany, or AfD, since leaving Germany’s borders open as more than 1 million refugees arrived over the past two years.

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