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1ST LEAD Merkel intends to stay around for the next four years By Andre Stahl and Marc Galmoud-Aziz, dpa

By our dpa-correspondent and Europe Online    auf Facebook posten  Auf Twitter posten  
Berlin (dpa) - Angela Merkel said she intends to continue as chancellor of Germany for the coming years in an interview that aired on German television on Sunday, as the campaign for September‘s parliamentary elections got under way.

"No one can say what life will bring, but I certainly intend to continue for four years," Merkel said in response to a question concerning voters‘ expectations of her being able to fulfil her vision for Germany.

In the interview by broadcaster ARD, the incumbent chancellor spoke about the domestic issues of refugees and investment as well as relations with Turkey and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).

Ever moderate, the German leader was unafraid to back down on positions she believed in.

Despite friction with her conservative Bavarian sister party, the Christian Social Union (CSU), Merkel, who leads the Christian Democratic Union (CDU), rejected limiting the number of refugees that would be allowed to enter the country.

"As far as an upper limit is concerned, my position is clear: I will not accept it," she said, saying that numbers could be reduced by regulation and taking action to prevent the situations that cause people to flee one country for another.

This is in conflict with the CSU, whose leader Horst Seehofer has threatened not to enter into coalition without an annual upper limit for refugee numbers.

While agreeing with her centre-left opponent for chancellor, Martin Schulz, on the need for investment in such things as digitalization, Merkel claimed that the main problem was not lack of funds but the long planning process.

Merkel saw NATO as a partner in resolving Germany‘s problems with Turkey‘s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan as both countries are members of the defence alliance.

Merkel said her government would "outright" refuse to negotiate with Turkey over the right of German parliamentarians to visit German soldiers stationed in NATO bases in Turkey.

But she pointed to their common interest in fighting the Islamic State terrorist militia under the NATO banner as a reason for talks between Turkey and German to continue.

Turkey has questioned German parliamentary visits to bases on Turkish soil in part due to worsening relations between the two countries.

The Bundestag voted last year to describe the mass killing of Armenians at the hands of the Ottomans as genocide. Turkey is the Ottoman Empire‘s successor state and disputes the designation.

Erdogan‘s efforts earlier this year to lobby Germany‘s Turkish expatriate population to back extending his powers in a controversial referendum added to the tensions between the two countries.

This was followed by the German authorities refusing to allow Erdogan to speak to supporters at a rally during this month‘s Group of 20 summit of major economies in Hamburg.

Turkey also criticizes the fact that Turkish military officers have sought asylum in Germany after a failed coup last year.

The question of asylum and the right to visit German troops have "nothing, but nothing to do with each other," Merkel said.

"But the whole situation is awkward, absolutely awkward," she said.

Germans go to the polls for parliamentary elections on September 24.


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