Germany’s chancellor, Angela Merkel, will use her new year message to tell Germans that their country is stronger than terrorism and the government will do everything to ensure “security in freedom”.
Merkel is expected to say in her annual televised address, to be broadcast on Saturday, that 2016 has been “a year of severe tests”, the toughest of them being Islamic extremist terror. She will add, however, that she is “confident for Germany”.
On 19 December, 12 people were killed when a Tunisian man, Anis Amri, drove a truck into crowds of people at a Christmas market in Berlin. The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for that rampage, as it did for two attacks in Bavaria in the summer in which the assailants – who also came to Germany as asylum seekers – were killed and a total of 20 people were wounded.
“It is particularly bitter and sickening when terror attacks are committed by people who claim to seek protection in our country,” Merkel will say. The chancellor has faced criticism for her decision to allow in large numbers of migrants in 2015.
However, “in going about our life and our work, we are telling the terrorists: you are murderers full of hatred, but you will not determine how we live and want to live,” she will say, according to the text released by the government ahead of the message’s broadcast. “We are free, considerate and open.”
Germany is sending the same message by saying, in the face of pictures of the devastated Syrian city of Aleppo, “how important and right it was for our country to help those who really need our protection find their feet here and integrate” Merkel will add.
The chancellor will also talk about Germany’s democracy and values as being the opposite of the “hate-filled world of terrorism” and “stronger than terrorism”.
“We are stronger together. Our state is stronger. Our state is doing everything to guarantee its citizens security in freedom.”
She is also expected to promise that in 2017 her government will take action “where political or legal changes are necessary”.
Merkel is seeking a fourth term as chancellor in an election expected in September, and has said she believes she is facing her toughest campaign yet. She will call for “an open view of the world and self-confidence, in ourselves and our country”.
She also plans to mention the effect of Brexit on the European Union, talking about “distorted pictures” of the EU and of parliamentary democracy. While acknowledging that Europe is slow and difficult, she will say that it should concentrate on “what it really can do better than the national state”.
“We Germans should never be deceived into thinking that a happy future could ever lie in going it alone nationally,” she will say.