BERLIN: Chancellor Angela Merkel yesterday said Germany must “stand fast, argue, and fight for our own convictions” and assume greater responsibilities at a time when multilateralism is coming under intense pressure. In her New Year’s address to Germans, Merkel said long-held certainties about international cooperation were being put to the test. Global challenges including climate change, immigration and the fight against terrorism could not be solved by countries going it alone, she warned.
“For our own interests, we want to solve all these questions, and we can do that best when we also take into consideration the interests of others,” she said in a speech to be broadcast in full later yesterday. “That is the lesson from two world wars of the last century,” she said, warning however that “certainties about international cooperation is falling under pressure.”
“In our own interest, we must take on more responsibilities,” she said. With an eye to Germany taking on a non-permanent seat in the UN Security Council in 2019 and 2020, the leader of Europe’s biggest economy said her country would push for “global solutions”. She also pledged to raise spending for humanitarian and development aid, as well as defense. Although Merkel did not name US President Donald Trump in her speech, she has on previous occasions rejected his criticisms of multilateralism.
In his second appearance before the UN’s annual gathering in September, Trump told the General Assembly that he and his administration “reject the ideology of globalism, and we embrace the doctrine of patriotism”. A week later, Merkel had warned Trump against “destroying” the UN. “I believe that destroying something without having developed something new is extremely dangerous,” Merkel said at a regional election campaign event then.
Channel crossing plan
In other news, Britain and France have agreed to boost bilateral cooperation over a spike in migrants trying to cross the Channel, the UK’s Home Office said Sunday. In the coming weeks, the two countries will increase surveillance patrols and focus on measures to dismantle trafficking gangs and improve awareness about the dangers of sea crossings in one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes.
“The UK and France will build on our joint efforts to deter illegal migration — protecting our borders and human life,” said Britain’s Home Office minister Sajid Javid, after speaking on the phone with French counterpart Christophe Castaner. Attempts to cross the English Channel have been increasing since October, with authorities on both sides struggling to stop them.
Javid, who has previously said the rise is being treated as a “major incident”, has faced criticism from the opposition and from within his own party for responding too slowly. “More than 200 migrants have arrived on the Kent coast in small craft in the past two months. The scale of the problem is unprecedented,” Charlie Elphicke, the MP for Dover on the southeast coast of England, told the Daily Mail.
A particular increase in arrivals has been recorded over the Christmas period, with British authorities finding 43 people in English waters on Christmas Day and December 26. On Thursday, British border officials found 23 Iranians in three locations in Kent on England’s southeast coast, hours after French maritime authorities intercepted 11 migrants in a small boat near Sangatte. And on Sunday, authorities intercepted six Iranians near Kingsdown beach in Dover. – AFP