President Obama defended German Chancellor Angela Merkel for willingly accepting Syrian refugees in her country, praising her for being on the “right side of history” on the issue.
“What’s happening with respect to her position on refugees here in Europe — she is on the right side of history on this,” Obama said, praising her for taking on the “tough politics” in her country to express a proper level of “humanitarian concern.”
Obama said that in the modern globalized world, discussions about borders and walls were counter-productive. “Perhaps because she once lived behind a wall herself, Angela understands the aspirations of those who’ve been denied their freedom and who seek a better life,” Obama said, referring to the Berlin Wall that split East and West Germany until it came down in 1989.
“She is giving voice I think to the kinds of principles that bring people together rather than divide them,” Obama continued. “And I’m very proud of her for that. And I’m proud of the German people for that.”
According to Bloomberg, about 1.1 million asylum seekers entered Germany last year. That’s the highest number of refugees since World War II. Syrians made up almost 40 percent of the refugees.
Obama admitted that the European Union was a popular destination for refugees seeking asylum. “In many ways, the European Union is a target for those — or a destination, rather — for those refugees that do not enjoy peace and freedom at home,” he said.