German Chancellor Angela Merkel, whom Time magazine chose as Person of the Year, largely for her decision to welcome immigrants into the country, said Sunday that multiculturalism is a “grand delusion.”
“Those who seek refuge with us also have to respect our laws and traditions, and learn to speak German,” Merkel told a gathering of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU), her political party. She added, “Multiculturalism leads to parallel societies, and therefore multiculturalism remains a grand delusion.”
Merkel was praised around the world after her decision, in September, to welcome refugees from Turkey by way of Vienna. Since then, as many as one million immigrants have arrived in Germany.
Over time, Merkel’s tone has shifted from a refusal to set any limits on migration to her private statements to party members in November that she would support limiting immigration. Her remarks Sunday, that she intended to “reduce the number of refugees noticeably,” were her strongest statements so far that Germany’s ability to handle the influx does have limits.
Merkel’s CDU party continues to be behind her plan. At one point, her speech received a nine-minute ovation, which only ended when she cut it off.
Sunday was not the first time Merkel criticized multiculturalism. In 2010, she made headlines when, during a speech to a similar CDU meeting, she said, “Of course the multicultural approach, living side by side and being happy with one another, this approach has failed utterly.” Merkel went on to stress that “above all,” migrants must learn to speak German to properly integrate into society.