Berlin, May 28 (IANS) German Chancellor Angela Merkel has said “there is work to be done” in Germany to face up to the “dark forces” that are finding mainstream support in the country and in other parts of the world.
“In Germany, obviously, they always have to be seen in a certain context, in the context of our past, which means we have to be that much more vigilant than others,” she told CNN in an exclusive interview on Monday, a day after the European Parliament elections where nationalists failed to live up to a forecasted surge in support.
In Germany, the Green Party finished second to Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union.
Merkel said that she was “pleased that more people went to the elections than in the last European elections”, but conceded that the Greens’ performance “has to do with issues that people are interested in the most these days, for example climate change, and that is also for my party, of course, a challenge now”.
She said “we have to face-up to the specters of the past. We have to tell our young people what history has brought over us and others”.
In recent days, German Jews were warned by a leading government official not to wear ‘kippahs’ (traditional Jewish skullcaps) in public, following a rise in anti-Semitic attacks.
Addressing the rise in anti-Semitism, Merkel said that Germany has “always had a certain number of anti-Semites among us, unfortunately”.
“There is to this day not a single Synagogue not a single day-care centre for Jewish children, not a single school for Jewish children that does not need to be guarded by German policemen,” she added.
Merkel, who has been Chancellor for more than 13 years, has shouldered much of the blame for Europe’s populist wave, with some pinning the spike in support for the far-right, anti-Islam Alternative for Germany (AfD) on her handling of the European refugee crisis.
The Chancellor also defended her decision to allow nearly 1 million refugees into Germany, saying that the best way to manage immigration in the wake of humanitarian crises, like those in Syria and Iraq, was not to “shut ourselves off from each other”, but to be more “vigilant” in making sure that refugees fleeing these countries are “sufficiently cared for”.
Merkel is nearly halfway through her fourth and final term as Chancellor. Her final term as Chancellor is ending in 2021.
Merkel strongly rejected ceding any ground to populist forces, instead telling CNN that there was a need to show “why we are for democracy, why we try to bring about solutions, why we always have to put ourselves into the other person’s shoes, why we stand-up against intolerance, why we show no tolerance towards violations of human rights”.