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 there 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 said.
Speaking exclusively to CNN’s Christiane Amanpour a day after the European elections, where nationalists failed to live up to a forecasted surge in support, Merkel 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.”
Merkel, who has been Chancellor for more than 13 years and outlasted many global leaders, 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 again 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.”
That the forecasted far-right surge in last week’s European elections didn’t happen was largely attributed to increased support for pro-European Union green and liberal parties and an increased turnout across the bloc.
In Germany, the green party finished second to Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union.
It’s widely assumed that Merkel had a better relationship with Trump’s predecessor, Barack Obama. But Merkel revealed to CNN that her relationship with the former president “did not start very smoothly” and that “it was not that easy in the beginning.”
With Merkel’s final term as Chancellor ending in 2021, backers of her brand of politics fear it’s on the way out as populism from both the left and right erodes the political center.
Merkel strongly rejected ceding any ground to populist forces, instead saying 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.”