German Chancellor Angela Merkel has admitted that Germany reacted too late to mounting evidence of a refugee crisis.
In an interview published Wednesday by the Sueddeutsche Zeitung newspaper, Merkel said that "we Germans, too, ignored the problem for too long."
"In 2004 and 2005, there were already many refugee arrivals, but we left it to Spain and others at the external borders to deal with," Merkel said.
"After the many refugees we took in during the Yugoslav Wars, Germany was quite happy that it was mainly up to others to manage the issue," she added.
The interview was published one year after Merkel coined the famous phrase "we can do it" in relation to the refugee crisis.
Germany took in 1.1 million refugees in 2015. Many of them arrived in the wake of Merkel's promise of sanctuary to those fleeing the war in Syria.
"Germany will remain Germany, with everything that is dear to us," Merkel told the newspaper.
In depth coverage
Half of Germans do not want Angela Merkel to serve another term as chancellor, a survey published Sunday has found.