German Chancellor Angela Merkel has fired back at the US president-elect, insisting that “we Europeans have our fate in our own hands,” after Donald Trump criticized the EU and praised Britain’s decision to leave the bloc.
The German leader’s comments come after the US president-elect branded the NATO alliance as “obsolete” and lashed out at a key EU-US nuclear deal with Iran.
In an interview with two European newspapers, Trump also took aim at Merkel’s decision to let in refugees fleeing war in mostly Muslim nations, including Syria and Iraq, insinuating that this posed a security risk.
But Merkel says Trump mistakenly conflated two separate issues.
“I would clearly separate (terrorism) from the existence of refugees in relation to the Syrian civil war. The Syrian civil war has been far longer, the majority of Syrians left their country because of the civil war, because of the fight against Assad or the oppression by Assad,” she says, referring to Syrian President Bashar Assad.
“In addition to this is Islamist terrorism and that concerns all of us, but the civil war as such was in Syria first,” says Merkel, who has also come under fire at home after 890,000 asylum-seekers arrived in 2015 alone.