Merkel vows to keep seeking common ground on migrants

AP News
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Posted: Feb 17, 2016 7:28 AM
Merkel vows to keep seeking common ground on migrants

BERLIN (AP) — German Chancellor Angela Merkel pressed Wednesday for European Union countries to work with Turkey to curb the flow of migrants and vowed to continue searching for common ground.

European Union leaders are holding a summit on Thursday and Friday amid deep differences over migrant policy. Merkel's open-door stance to asylum-seekers has been under increasing pressure both from abroad and at home, including from within her own conservative bloc.

"We are used to certain things in Europe taking a certain amount of time but it is always worth ... working, and I will do that, to achieve common ground all the same," Merkel said at a news conference.

Merkel reiterated that "the question of quotas is not at the forefront at present." She already has said it would be "ridiculous" to talk about new quotas of migrants for European countries to take in when initial quotas agreed upon still haven't been divided among the EU.

"At the forefront now is a common position on how we want to protect our external borders — and to do that, it makes sense to implement the EU-Turkey agenda," she said.

EU countries, keen to stop refugees crossing to Greece on their quest to reach more prosperous nations, last year pledged 3 billion euros ($3.3 billion) to help Syrian refugees in Turkey.

Earlier Wednesday, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker spoke out in favor of the chancellor's stance, saying Merkel "will outlast all of her current critics in office."

Juncker told Wednesday's edition of the Bild newspaper that "chancellors have always been recognized for staying the course in turbulent times." He pointed to former Chancellor Helmut Kohl's efforts to reunite Germany, saying that "history has showed he was right and it will also show Angela Merkel is right."