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Stateswoman Angela Merkel defiant year after open door speech

A few days later, Germany threw open its doors to thousands of asylum seekers stranded in Hungary.

Published: 01st September 2016 08:18 AM  |   Last Updated: 01st September 2016 09:22 AM   |  A+A-

Angela Merkel marked the anniversary of the day she first used her migrant crisis slogan of "we can do it" with a message of defiance, insisting that Germany would not be fundamentally changed by the influx of more than one million asylum seekers.

"Germany will remain Germany, with all that we hold most precious and dear," Mrs Merkel said in an interview with Suddeutsche Zeitung yesterday. "So many refugees want to come to Germany or Austria or Sweden because they are treated well here, according to our values and principles."

A year ago to the day, in a press conference that would be a turning point in the migrant crisis, Mrs Merkel announced that Germany would rise to the challenge of the unprecedented numbers flooding into Europe.

A few days later, Germany threw open its doors to thousands of asylum seekers stranded in Hungary.

Mrs Merkel has faced accusations that her decision encouraged more migrants to travel to Europe. Her approval ratings plummeted in Germany and her once unassailable position as chancellor has come under threat.

But she was unapologetic yesterday. "Do we stand by what our constitution says about human dignity?" she said. "Do we stand by our claim to be humanitarians? Do we stand by the very core of our European and foreign policy? This is what it is about. We have to do it."

She said she had never intended "we can do it" to become a slogan.

"If you has asked me before the press conference if I thought a particular phrase would become quoted, I would not have named this phrase," she said.

She insisted that rather than causing the influx, Germany had responded to an existing crisis. One year on, Germany has taken in more than 1.3?million asylum seekers, but the numbers have fallen drastically in recent months.

This is due in part to the closure of the Balkan Route across Eastern Europe, and to the EU's controversial migrant deal with Turkey, which Mrs Merkel personally negotiated.

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