Angela Merkel Calls Multiculturalism 'A Grand Delusion'

The German chancellor said immigrants will have to do more to assimilate.

15/12/2015 11:44 AM AEDT | Updated 15/12/2015 1:50 PM AEDT

In an address to the Christian Democratic Union on Monday, German Chancellor Angela Merkel pledged to limit the flow of refugees entering the country, addressing critics in her own party who have questioned her decision to open Germany's borders.

As a top economic and political power, Germany has a "humanitarian imperative" to accept people fleeing turmoil in Syria, Merkel said. Yet after accepting roughly 1 million refugees so far this year, she added that the country must now "noticeably reduce" the number of new arrivals.

In comments The Guardian translated into English, Merkel said refugees will have to make an effort to assimilate into German society. She also dismissed the idea of multiculturalism, which in parts of Europe is associated with a policy of encouraging distinct cultural groups to live in separate communities.

"Those who seek refuge with us also have to respect our laws and traditions, and learn to speak German,” she said. “Multiculturalism leads to parallel societies, and therefore multiculturalism remains a grand delusion.”

Earlier this month, Merkel was named Time magazine's Person of the Year, partly for her work managing Europe's refugee crisis and the Greece debt crisis.

Her comments on Monday were neither new nor unexpected. In 2011, the Netherlands abandoned a policy of multiculturalism that allowed separate ethnic communities to live side by side without integration efforts.

At a speech she gave to her party in 2010, Merkel said immigrants were welcome in Germany -- but they should be prepared to adapt.

"The approach [to build] a multicultural [society] and to live side-by-side and to enjoy each other ... has failed, utterly failed," she said at the time.

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