"I have no plan B," Merkel said, adding that she was convinced she was on the right track with efforts to redistribute refugees within Europe, while addressing the problems causing people to flee to the continent: "I am fighting for this approach," Deutsche Welle wrote.

Merkel said she needed to take care that fewer refugees came to Germany, but sought to reassure viewers by insisting that her government's strategy is the only "logical" one – and has been well considered.

The chancellor admitted that she was concerned about disputes over migrants within the EU, commenting that a breakdown of Europe must be avoided.

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Merkel also said dealing with the migration crisis has been a "difficult path," but that it concerned Germany's reputation in the world: "This is a very important phase in our history," she said.

"There is so much violence and hardship on our doorstep," she said. "What's right for Germany in the long term? There, I think it is to keep Europe together and to show humanity."

Threat to democracy?

The chancellor rejected the suggestion that recent violent protests and open displays of hostility towards refugees could lead to a threat to democracy similar to that experienced under the Weimar Republic. Then, after the loss of the First World War, a three-year period of hyperinflation up to 1924 caused political instability.

"I do not believe that," Merkel said, but noted that it was important to take such warnings seriously. She said that it was her job "to solve problems so that we can stand by our values."

Commenting on what she called the "devastating" attacks on women in Cologne at New Year by men said to be of mostly North African origin, Merkel said: "Rules must be clear from the start" to refugees, adding, "Integration isn't just a voluntary matter."

The interview was the third major television appearance that Merkel has made in the last five months – the first with the same ARD talkshow hosted by Anne Will, the second with ZDF in mid-November.

Merkel's party faces elections on March 13 when voters elect new regional parliaments in three of Germany's 16 states. It is the first poll since the migrant crisis began.

Talking to Turkey and Greece

Merkel said that viable agreements with Turkey needed to be made in order to limit the influx of refugees into Europe.

She added that her focus is on negotiations with Turkey – over providing better care to refugees – due to take place next week, with a summit on migration expected ten days later. The chancellor ruled out any personal consequences for herself in the event that the talks fail, saying only that such a scenario would entail more work on finding a solution.

The ARD talk show host, Anne Will, asked Merkel about the growing number of refugees unable to cross into Macedonia at Greece's border with the country.

Merkel responded, "We cannot let this country down." Greece was kept within the eurozone not just to be plunged into "chaos" now, she explained.

"The international financial crisis was a big challenge. We managed that well. The euro crisis was a huge challenge," Merkel commented.