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Angela Merkel Says Opening Borders to Refugees Was The Right Thing To Do — Even If It Cost Her Some Votes

Michaela Rehle/Pool Photo via AP

In 2015, Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel opened Germany’s borders to thousands of refugees and the decision was met with mixed reactions — some welcomed the newcomers, while others strongly opposed the decision and have loudly protested against the policies.

Still, Merkel, who’s up for re-election, said on Sunday that if she had a chance to do it all over again, she’d make the same decision.

“I’d make all the important decisions of 2015 the same way again,” Merkel told the Welt am Sonntag newspaper. “It was an extraordinary situation and I made my decision based on what I thought was right from a political and humanitarian standpoint.”

Read More: Chancellor Angela Merkel's Message for Global Citizens

Merkel’s open-door policy lead to the arrival of a million refugees from Syria and Iraq over the last two years, which resulted in wavering support for her conservative party, and increased support for the far-right Alternative for Germany party (AfD).

Still, Merkel explained it was unfair that countries like Greece and Italy had had to deal with the refugee crisis on their own. Merkel said that she would continue to push to have refugees fairly dispersed throughout the European Union.

“That some countries refuse to accept any refugees is not on. That contradicts the spirit of Europe. We’ll overcome that. It will take time and patience but we will succeed,” she said.

Read More: The UK Is Accused of ‘Trapping’ Thousands of Refugees in Libya, Leaving Them Vulnerable to ‘Exploitation and Abuse’

In September 2016, Merkel admitted that they did not have enough control at the borders in 2015 because her government had not been prepared to handle the large number of people that arrived following conflicts in the Middle East.

But the chancellor reiterated that it was not a mistake to keep the country’s borders open to the those stranded at Keleti station in Budapest, but more so lack of preparation for the influx of arrivals.

Sunday’s Emnid opinion poll indicated that Merkel’s conservatives would win with 38%, which is up from 32% in February, but down from the 41.5% that won them the last election in 2013. The election is Sept. 24.

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