German Chancellor Angela Merkel has been named Time Magazine‘s person of the year for 2015.
The choice is bound to cause controversy, given the German Chancellor’s decision to open her country’s borders to Syrian migrants, thus exacerbating the continent’s migrant crisis.
Germany has taken more migrants than any other nation, but Mrs Merkel has said she sees it as her country’s duty to help those seeking asylum.
Explaining its decision, the magazine writes:
In late summer, Merkel’s government threw open Germany’s doors to a pressing throng of refugees and migrants; a total of 1 million asylum seekers are expected in the country by the end of December. It was an audacious act that, in a single motion, threatened both to redeem Europe and endanger it, testing the resilience of an alliance formed to avoid repeating the kind of violence tearing asunder the Middle East by working together. That arrangement had worked well enough that it raised an existential question of its own, now being asked by the richest country in Europe: What does it mean to live well?
Merkel had her answer: “In many regions war and terror prevail. States disintegrate. For many years we have read about this. We have heard about it. We have seen it on TV. But we had not yet sufficiently understood that what happens in Aleppo and Mosul can affect Essen or Stuttgart. We have to face that now.” For her, the refugee decision was a galvanizing moment in a career that was until then defined by caution and avoidance of anything resembling drama. Analysts called it a jarring departure from form. But it may also have been inevitable, given how Angela Merkel feels about walls.
Time says that thanks to Merkel: “The most generous, openhearted gesture of recent history blossomed from Germany, the country that within living memory (and beyond, as long as there’s a History Channel) blew apart the European continent, and then the world, by taking to gruesome extremes all the forces its Chancellor strives to hold in check: nationalism, nativism, self-righteousness, reversion to arms.”
Not everyone will be happy, however.
Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban has consistently criticised the German government’s handling of the migrant crisis, saying it has only made things worse.
In October, Mr Orban said Europe was in “deep trouble” due to Mrs Merkel’s policies.
“This is an uncontrolled and unregulated process,” he said, adding that it poses a direct threat to democracy because governments did not “get authorisation from (citizens) for millions to walk into our continent.”