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  • Thursday, September 1 2016
  • Daniel Jiménez
  • Analysis
  • Geopolitics
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It was something of a curious sight in early October last year, when Angela Merkel stepped into the prime-time spotlight on the popular political talk show Anne Will. The reticent German chancellor is not known to be a great fan of television appearances.

But she is a political realist, and Merkel had good reason to believe her survival was at stake. Over the previous six weeks, since she made the decision to suspend the Dublin Regulation and allow all Syrian asylum-seekers to stay in Germany, Merkel had watched her seemingly ironclad popularity levels unravel at an alarming rate. Germany was well on its way to receiving more than a million asylum-seekers in one year, and Germans were feeling overwhelmed. Farther afield, Merkel’s European partners were in open mutiny, balking at calls to resettle refugees. From the right, left, and center, the heat was on. Merkel’s mantra of “Wir schaffen das” (“We can do this”) — a tepid version of Barack Obama’s “Yes, we can” — was wearing thin.

For almost half an hour, Merkel fielded a relentless stream of questions from journalist and host Anne Will on how Germany would be able to cope. Under fire, she vowed to tackle the crisis head on. “I have a plan,” she declared, “but it doesn’t just depend on me.” Germany would work hand in hand with Turkey, she said. Ankara would help stop smuggling operations on its end; in exchange, Germany would “invest” in improving conditions for refugees in Turkey and work to resettle Syrians in Europe in an orderly, legal manner.