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Chancellor Angela Merkel (L) and Martin Schulz faced off in a debate in Berlin on September 3, three weeks before  the German parliamentary elections.
Chancellor Angela Merkel (L) and Martin Schulz faced off in a debate in Berlin on September 3, three weeks before  the German parliamentary elections.

Merkel and Schulz Spar Over North Korea, Refugees

Merkel defended the majority of Muslims in Germany, saying that many contribute to the country’s success and are part of German society

Merkel and Schulz Spar Over North Korea, Refugees

German Chancellor Angela Merkel traded blows with her election rival, Martin Schulz, in a live TV debate Sunday night, three weeks before the country's federal election.
The pair sparred over the right course of action in North Korea, after Sunday's nuclear bomb test, CNN reported.
President Donald Trump "is not the right person to solve this conflict," said Schulz, leader of the Social Democratic Party, or SPD.
"Last time, by tweeting, he brought us to the brink of a crisis."
Germany will need to work with other partners, including Canada, to solve this crisis, Schulz continued. "The problem we have with Trump is that he is unpredictable ... we never know when he will tweet next time."
He later likened Trump to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, arguing both leaders question democratic values.
Merkel responded to the question of North Korea with more caution. "I don't think we can solve this without the US president, but we will only consider a peaceful, diplomatic solution," she said.
"We need the US as a power for peace," she said, "and we need to do everything possible to get them on the right and sensible path."
According to Al Jazeera, Sunday's TV clash had been touted as Schulz's last chance to sway millions to his cause and halt a devastating popularity slide.
But polls following the 90-minute showdown gave Merkel, leader of the Christian Democratic Party (CDU) since 2000, a clear edge over Schulz, a former European Parliament chief and leader of the Social Democratic Union Party of Germany (SDP).
"Merkel came out as sure, Schulz was hardly able to land a punch. The candidate is an honorable man. But being honorable alone won't make one chancellor," wrote Heribert Prantl, Sueddeutsche daily commentator.
Hardline on Turkey
Schulz took a harder line than his rival on Erdogan. Relations between Germany and Turkey have deteriorated significantly over the last months.
Negotiations for Turkey's accession to the European Union must be stopped, he said.
"All our basic values are called into question," by Erdogan's regime, he continued.
He also called for accession payments to Turkey to be stopped, describing Erdogan as an "autocratic ruler."
"Germany needs to let Turkey know that all red lines have been overstepped," he said.
Merkel agreed that accession negotiations should be paused but insisted that "we need to continue talking" with Turkey.
"I do not want to stop diplomatic relations with Turkey," she said.
Very Big Task
The debate opened with a series of questions on Merkel's refugee policy, for which she has been widely criticized after 1 million refugees entered the country in 2015.
Integrating these refugees is "a very big task," Merkel admitted —but defended her decision to allow an indefinite number of refugees into Germany in September of that year.
Schulz criticized that decision, arguing that Merkel should not have acted without support from other European countries. "People who flee from ISIS, from mass rape and mass violence come here and we are ready to protect them," he said. "We are proud of that in Germany."
ISIS is the acronym of the self-styled Islamic State terrorist group.
We cannot and we should not close Europe's outer borders, he said. But "in terms of migration, we face great challenges."
"Integration is the task of a generation."
Schulz also promised to speed up deportations of those asylum seekers who do not have the right to stay in Germany, but argued against mass deportations, insisting that cases should always be assessed on an individual basis.
Security
"We must not get used to terror and we need to confront it," said Merkel when asked about the rise in the number of terror attacks across Europe.
"We need to do everything possible to learn from our mistakes," she said, referring to the truck attack in Berlin in December 2016 in which 12 people were killed.
The perpetrator, Anis Amri, was supposed to be in pre-deportation custody at the time of the attack.
Schulz agreed there were many mistakes and said Germany needs to take all preventive measures to stop people becoming a risk.
Islam
Merkel defended the majority of Muslims in Germany, saying that many contribute to the country's success and are part of German society.
"The Islamic community needs to make clear that (Islamist terrorism) has nothing to do with Islam," she said.
But she said the training of imams within Germany needed to be improved and that mosques should be closed "if things happen that we don't accept."
Schulz acknowledged that some newcomers from Muslim countries may have a different set of values and stressed the importance of education, both in schools and also in vocational training programs.
INTRO: Merkel defended the majority of Muslims in Germany, saying that many contribute to the country's success and are part of German society.

 

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