Merkel demands release of Germans unduly imprisoned in Turkey

Chancellor Angela Merkel says lifting sanctions on Russian Federation imposed over its aggression in Ukraine would benefit both Russian Federation and Germany, but that they must remain in place until Moscow fulfills the conditions for their removal.

"I would take all the important decisions of 2015 the same way again", she told Germany's Welt am Sonntag newspaper, saying they had been necessary to "avert a humanitarian catastrophe".

As the election campaign heats up, and refugee integration and security concerns boost the far-right AfD in her native eastern Germany, Dr Merkel dismissed the party as "racist" for launching a broadside against her Turkish-German integration minister.

Merkel's poll numbers rebounded as the influx ebbed to 280,000 past year, restricted by border closures along the so-called Balkan route and a refugee accord between the European Union and Turkey.

"We are in much better shape than we were just a few years ago", Merkel said.

'Those kinds of extraordinary situations happen every once in a while in a country's history.

In an interview with national broadcaster ZDF, Merkel said Germany allows plaintiffs to bundle lawsuits against financial companies and the same rights could be offered to vehicle buyers if done right.

However, the betting market remains confident that Chancellor Merkel's party the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and her sister party, Christian Social Union (CSU) will be the biggest in next month's election.

On the future of the EU, the German leader said she backed plans to turn the European Stability Mechanism crisis fund into a full-blown European Monetary Fund.

She added, though, that this does not mean a political transformation in Syria is not needed. Germany allows plaintiffs to bundle lawsuits against financial companies, and the same rights could be offered to vehicle buyers if done right, she said. With Federal elections to be held next month, Mrs. Merkel is keen to look like she has control of the migrant issue.

Opposition has been particularly staunch in her home region in former communist east Germany.

She said: "We're a democracy and everyone can freely express themselves in public the way they want".

"The head of government has to act and I did", she added".

Asked what she could do to spice up what has so far been a somnolent election campaign, seemingly bereft of real debate, Merkel insisted she wasn't bored.

But she says "Europe itself still hasn't done its homework to this day", with some countries refusing to accept a share of the refugees arriving in Europe.

"You have to live with it", Merkel said of the protests.

  • Rogelio Becker