At the end of a year in which more than 1 million refugees and migrants are estimated to have entered Germany, chancellor Angela Merkel spoke of the promise of her country’s welcoming approach, in her televised end-of-year address to the nation.
“I am convinced that, handled properly, today’s great task presented by the influx and the integration of so many people is an opportunity for tomorrow,” she said, adding that “countries have always benefited from successful immigration, both economically and socially.”
Merkel also said that Germany’s values, traditions, “sense of justice,” and laws apply to “to all who wish to live here,” and that “it goes without saying that we help and accommodate people who seek safe haven with us.”
She thanked her countrymen for welcoming those fleeing war and persecution with an “overwhelming and truly moving wave of spontaneous helpfulness.” She also cautioned against hatred or divisions among “those that are already here and those that are new citizens.” Germany has seen a spate of anti-refugee violence, with attacks on refugee shelters increasing fourfold recently.
“It is crucial not to follow those who, with coldness or even hatred in their hearts, lay a sole claim to what it means to be German and seek to exclude others,” Merkel said.
She acknowledged that handling the influx of newcomers will “take time, effort and money,” but asked Germans to be “self-confident and free, humanitarian and open to the world.”