Europe

Merkel marks 25 years of unified Germany with migrant plea

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Media captionLeaders hope the anniversary can inspire the country on the migrant crisis

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has marked the 25th anniversary of German reunification by urging a unified response to Europe's migrant crisis.

She urged the international community to come together to find a solution as East and West Germany had done in 1990.

Some 200,000 migrants, many fleeing Syria and Iraq, arrived last month in Germany, more than the whole of 2014.

Mrs Merkel was attending a ceremony in Frankfurt's cathedral with President Joachim Gauck and other dignitaries.

Mrs Merkel said that "we as Germany cannot solve the [migrant] problem on our own, only together, in Europe - through a fair distribution of tasks - and also worldwide... Everyone must fulfil his task".

The ceremony gave thanks that the two Germanies - the communist East and capitalist West - were peacefully reunited 25 years ago.

But the BBC's Damien McGuinness in Berlin says that, again and again during the Frankfurt service, reference was made to the need to help refugees in the same way that Germans had once helped each other.

Political leaders want the example of reunification to inspire Germans on the migrant crisis, he says.

'Herculean task'

West and East Germany were reunified on 3 October 1990, less than 11 months after the Berlin Wall was reopened by the East under the pressure of massive demonstrations.

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Image caption Some of the 200,000 migrants who arrived in Germany in September alone

Both Mrs Merkel and President Gauck - a former pastor and pro-democracy activist - grew up in the East.

In a message ahead of the anniversary, Mrs Merkel sounded a note of optimism about the migrant issue.

She said: "The experiences of German unification give us the feeling and the confidence that we can deal successfully with the tasks that face us - however big they are.

"That also goes for the Herculean task that moves us at the moment and demands a national effort of us: the many, many people who are seeking shelter with us in Europe and Germany."

In a podcast on Saturday she also stressed the need to "protect our external borders across Europe - and protect them together - so that immigration to Europe is orderly".

However, an opinion poll on Thursday suggested Mrs Merkel faces a tough task on the issue - her personal popularity slumped to its lowest level in nearly four years.

More from the BBC on the migrant crisis:

What is the next route through Europe?

How is migrant crisis dividing EU countries?

EU migration: Crisis in graphics

A note on terminology: The BBC uses the term migrant to refer to all people on the move who have yet to complete the legal process of claiming asylum. This group includes people fleeing war-torn countries such as Syria, who are likely to be granted refugee status, as well as people who are seeking jobs and better lives, who governments are likely to rule are economic migrants. HungaryHungary: Europe borders 'under threat'