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Main topic of talks in Berne

Angela Merkel advocates binding quotas for refugees

Germany and France are advocating binding quotas for the allocation of refugees to individual EU member states, said the Chancellor, who was in Berne for talks with the Swiss President. Angela Merkel praised Switzerland for the way it has dealt with high numbers of refugees.

Swiss President Simonetta Sommaruga and Chancellor Angela Merkel The Chancellor and President Simonetta Sommaruga also discussed the OSCE, Ukraine and Turkey Foto: Bundesregierung/Bergmann

Angela Merkel stressed that Germany and Switzerland agree absolutely on the fundamental values relating to the refugee situation. Asylum procedures must, of course, comply with the rule of law. They should nevertheless be completed in a shorter space of time and should result in clarity.

This is an area in which Germany can learn from Switzerland’s experience, she said. Angela Merkel pointed out that Switzerland’s procedure has been very successful, with registration centres for refugees, and the distribution of recognised asylum-seekers among the country’s cantons.

"The refugee situation affects all of us"

The two countries also agreed that binding quotas for refugees must be introduced in the European Union. In this context Angela Merkel pointed to the position shared by France and Germany regarding fixed quotas for the fair allocation of refugees to the various EU member states. Their common position emerged following a telephone conversation with French President François Hollande on Thursday, and this is now to be communicated to the European institutions, said Angela Merkel. "The refugee situation affects all of us in Europe. The 1951 Refugee Convention applies in all EU member states," said Angela Merkel.

It is important to act accurately, correctly and on the basis of solidarity, she continued. Germany is willing to draw up a quota system which would take into account not only the population of member states but also the economic performance of each individual state. She stressed that Europe could learn from the way Switzerland deals with refugees.

Doing "what is morally and legally right"

Germany, said the Chancellor, is doing what is morally and legally right – no more and no less. EU states such as Sweden, Austria and Germany cannot be left alone with the problem, however.

Following their talks, Swiss President Simonetta Sommaruga thanked Chancellor Angela Merkel for her open and frank statements on rabble-rousing, hatred and xenophobia. She stressed the common ground between the two countries and underlined their shared values. Angela Merkel said that human dignity is a deeply rooted Christian value and that it is the duty of every state to afford protection to people in need.

During her visit the Chancellor once again thanked the many volunteers, the police and civil servants for their work.

Following her talks with the Swiss President, the Chancellor was awarded an honorary doctorate from the University of Berne, after which she gave a speech and took part in a discussion.

Donnerstag, 3. September 2015