German Chancellor Angela Merkel admitted that her country has long ignored the refugee crisis and defended the current policy to handle the issue, a year after her government decided to open the door to refugees to file for asylum.
In an interview to a local newspaper, Merkel said "We in Germany have also long ignored the problem. In 2004 and 2005, many refugees came and we let Spain and others at the outer borders deal with it."
Merkel also admitted that back then Germany refused the option of a proportional allocation of refugees, Efe news reported on Wednesday.
Exactly a year ago, when thousands of refugees started their European journey towards Germany and Austria, Merkel said "We can do this" a phrase that still haunts her to this day."If you asked me before if I would introduce a distinctive phrase that would be quoted many times over, I would not have thought of this phrase," she explained.
The chancellor also added that she used the phrase with "deep conviction… and with the awareness that we were dealing with a difficult and big task."
A significant sector of German society has concerns about the influx of refugees into their country, of which Merkel said "Germany will remain Germany with all that we love and hold dear."
Merkel also rejected the notion that there was a direct connection between terrorism and accommodating so many migrants in the country.
"It is simply false that terrorism only first came here through refugees. It was already here, especially with the suspected terrorists that we have been monitoring," she said.