Merkel has no regrets over refugee policy despite political cost

Merkel has no regrets over refugee policy despite political cost

In an interview with the Welt am Sonntag newspaper on Sunday, Merkel denied she had made any mistakes with her open-door policy even though the arrival of a million refugees over the last two years from Syria and Iraq opened deep rifts in her conservative party and depressed its support. Social Democratic Party leader Martin Schulz also vowed to invest more money in education as chancellor.

"The last four years of the Kohl era was a period of stagnation and political agony", he added.

The volume and intensity of the protests have been especially strong in her home region in formerly communist eastern Germany. That compares with a 39-38 percent edge for Merkel in January, when Schulz's emergence as her main challenger gave the SPD a temporary poll boost.

"I want to reach those undecided people", said Schulz. "And if I can do that, then I can win the parliamentary elections", he said. In an interview with ARD television on Sunday, he accused Merkel's chancellery of blocking collective lawsuits against the auto industry. While Green party co-leader Cem Oezdemir said the next government must chart a course for ending the combustion-engine era, Ms Merkel and Mr Schulz say diesel vehicles will have to be on the road for years to come. "But it has to be properly designed".

"The individual consumer who drives a auto and has to make his case against Volkswagen or Daimler is lost on his own", Schulz said.

Mrs Merkel says she also is interested in fostering a "migration partnership" with Niger to inhibit the smuggling of migrants through African deserts on the way to Libya.

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Proponents of a more tightly integrated eurozone have been hoping Merkel would use the window of opportunity after her expected reelection as chancellor in Septemper to join forces with French President Emmanuel Macron to pursue a great leap forward.

"Some believe the problems in Germany can be fixed by screaming - but I don't think so", she said.

"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.

Turkish media report that some 4,000 FETO suspects have gone to Germany from Turkey and other countries in the wake of the failed coup.

Schulz last week announced that he would expel United States nuclear weapons from German territory and that he rejected USA calls for Germany to spend more on defence.

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