Germany's Merkel says ties with Turkey in a 'complicated phase'

German Chancellor Angela Merkel is "aloof" and "out of touch", her main challenger Martin Schulz said Sunday, stepping up his attacks as he seeks to turn around a flagging campaign ahead of next month's general election.

Schengen countries - Austria, Germany, Sweden, Denmark and non-EU member Norway introduced ID checks at their borders during the height of the refugee crisis in 2015.

"We should do more", Merkel, said while also stating that a military conflict with North Korea could be avoided.

"I made my decision based on what I thought was right from a political and humanitarian standpoint", she said, calling the 2015 refugee crisis as one of those "extraordinary situations" that just "happen every once in a while in a country's history".

In the past Mrs Merkel has been a staunch defender of her migration policy, insisting Europe must take more refugees and Islam "isn't a source of terror".

She also placed the blame ironically on the border restrictions already in place - prior to the autumn of 2015 - to check the unregulated inflow of the refugees into Europe.


She said the SPD, junior partner in Merkel's current coalition government, had also ruled out governing with the anti-immigrant AfD, but had not issued any clear statements on whether it would work with the Left party. With Federal elections to be held next month, Mrs. Merkel is keen to look like she has control of the migrant issue. She added she would not stop pushing for the fair distribution of refugees across the European Union. Independent journalism is a basic pillar of democracy that can "never be questioned, even when it is uncomfortable", she had said.

The five countries first introduced the checks as a record wave of refugees and migrants from Syria and other Middle East countries and from Africa streamed across Europe.

Responding to pressure from her opponent, Ms Merkel said she could envisage legislation to enable vehicle owners to file collective lawsuits against carmakers over excessively polluting diesel engines.

"The protests at Merkel's rallies have become so frequent that UK's Daily Express correctly noted: "[Her] election campaign team are well used to boos during their tour of Germany".

"Assad is stronger than I would like him to be", she admitted.

Schulz, who is trailing Merkel in pre-election polls, accused her of being aloof.


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