Merkel warns in new year address of terrorist threat in Germany

BERLIN: Chancellor Angela Merkel will warn in her new year’s address on Saturday of the terrorist threat facing Germany, saying that her government will take whatever steps are necessary to ensure the country’s security. In a pre-recorded television broadcast, the text of which was released late on Friday, she once again strongly defended her controversial decision in September 2015 to open Germany’s borders to refugees and migrants stranded in Hungary. The chancellor said the bombing of Aleppo in Syria had shown “how important and correct” it had been to offer protection to those fleeing the horrors of war.
Merkel said that the series of terrorist attacks in Germany in 2016 — culminating in the December lorry attack on a Berlin Christmas marketing which 12 people were killed — had been a severe test for the nation. It was without doubt that terrorists have been targeting Germans for many years, she said, also referring to a July attack on a train in Bavaria by a 17-year-old Afghan refugee. Merkel’s call to defeat the hatred of terrorism with a humane response prompted sharp criticism from the right-wing populist Alternative for Germany (AfD). “The address gives the impression of being helpless and disoriented,” AfD board member Alice Weidel said. Terrorism is not something that can be defeated with humanity, but with “tough crackdown and border security,” Weidel said.
Merkel’s centre-right Christian Democrats (CDU) have been losing support to the AfD amid frustration over her refugee policy, which critics have said make the country more vulnerable to extremist attacks. Her rivals look set to enter federal parliament for the first time in 2017 elections. The chancellor told the nation that it was “particularly bitter and repugnant when terrorist attacks are committed by people who are in our country allegedly seeking protection,” accusing them of taunting those who tried to help them. But she said her conservative-led government would continue to boost the nation’s security in 2017 saying, Berlin “will implement as fast as possible, measures where political or legal changes are necessary.” — DPA