Merkel un­der pres­sure to tighten pol­icy on refugees

Irish Independent - - World News - David Ris­ing

PRES­SURE grew on An­gela Merkel from the right wing of her con­ser­va­tive bloc yes­ter­day to tighten Ger­many’s refugee poli­cies and al­low some mi­grants to be turned away at the bor­ders.

The Chan­cel­lor faces a ma­jor chal­lenge to her au­thor­ity that echoes wider Eu­ro­pean dis­agree­ments on how to deal with the huge num­bers of asy­lum-seek­ers.

In­te­rior Min­is­ter Horst See­hofer has pro­posed turn­ing back refugees who have al­ready reg­is­tered in other Eu­ro­pean coun­tries, as part of a lengthy “mas­ter­plan” to curb unau­tho­rised im­mi­gra­tion.

He also wants to block mi­grants whose asy­lum ap­pli­ca­tions in Ger­many have been re­jected from re­turn­ing to the coun­try.

His news con­fer­ence to an­nounce the de­tails of the plan was called off on Tuesday af­ter he and Ms Merkel couldn’t agree, and he is now push­ing for a res­o­lu­tion by the end of the week.

Yes­ter­day the leader of Mr See­hofer’s Bavar­ian-only Chris­tian So­cial Union (CSU) in par­lia­ment said the party sup­ported him and would not back down, and sug­gested it might try to force through changes at a state level. That could cause a break in the long­time al­liance with Ms Merkel’s Chris­tian Demo­cratic Union (CDU).

“We are in a se­ri­ous, a very se­ri­ous sit­u­a­tion,” said Alexan­der Do­brint, who added that the is­sue would be dis­cussed in Bavaria with party lead­ers on Monday.

The com­ments came as both the CSU and Ms Merkel’s CDU each held emer­gency con­sul­ta­tions on refugee pol­icy.

Ger­many has re­ceived more than one mil­lion asy­lum seek­ers since 2015 and Ms Merkel has ac­knowl­edged the need to im­prove sys­tems and strengthen the Eu­ro­pean Union’s ex­ter­nal bor­ders.

But she ar­gues turn­ing mi­grants away at the bor­ders could vi­o­late Eu­ro­pean reg­u­la­tions, and po­ten­tially in­crease pres­sure on coun­tries such as Italy and Greece.

Mi­grant num­bers have de­clined steeply in the past two years, but Ger­many is still reg­is­ter­ing about 11,000 new asy­lum-seek­ers per month.

Ms Merkel has been in­sist­ing on a Eu­ro­pean so­lu­tion to the is­sue rather than an ad hoc na­tional ap­proach like Hun­gary’s de­ci­sion to close its bor­ders at the height of the cri­sis in 2015.

Mr Do­brint in­sisted the CSU did not ob­ject to Eu­ro­pean so­lu­tions, but added that ac­tion was needed more quickly “in or­der to re­store or­der on the bor­ders”.

Mr See­hofer was a lead­ing critic of Ms Merkel’s wel­com­ing stance in 2015 and has been tak­ing an in­creas­ingly hard line ahead of Bavar­ian state elec­tions this au­tumn.

He has now started to draw sup­port for his ideas from Ms Merkel’s own party, as well as from other coun­tries.

Both Aus­tria and Italy have seen par­ties with strong anti-mi­grant poli­cies come to power since 2015, when Eu­rope ex­pe­ri­enced a sharp rise in the num­ber of peo­ple seek­ing shel­ter from con­flicts and eco­nomic hard­ship else­where in the world.

On Wednesday in Ber­lin af­ter meet­ing with Mr See­hofer, Aus­trian Chan­cel­lor Se­bas­tian Kurz voiced sup­port for his ideas, say­ing it made sense for Rome, Vi­enna and Ber­lin to work to­gether on the mi­gra­tion is­sue.

“In our view, we need an ‘axis of the will­ing’ in the fight against il­le­gal mi­gra­tion,” Mr Kurz, whose coun­try takes over the EU’s ro­tat­ing pres­i­dency July 1, told re­porters.

In Vi­enna yes­ter­day, Mr Kurz spoke about the im­por­tance of se­cur­ing Eu­rope’s ex­ter­nal bor­ders and again sug­gested he was leaning to­ward na­tional so­lu­tions.

“It is im­por­tant that the govern­ments and not the smug­glers de­cide who comes to Eu­rope,” he said.

As Ms Merkel sought to find a com­pro­mise with Mr See­hofer, the top-sell­ing ‘Bild’ news­pa­per re­ported that a three-hour cri­sis meet­ing ended just be­fore mid­night on Wednesday with­out a res­o­lu­tion.

In the meet­ing, Mr See­hofer re­port­edly in­sisted that if Ms Merkel adopted his so­lu­tion for Ger­many, it would strengthen her hand in ne­go­ti­at­ing at a Eu­ro­pean level.

Ms Merkel’s party sig­nalled yes­ter­day that it may be edg­ing to­ward a so­lu­tion, say­ing in a state­ment that peo­ple whose asy­lum ap­pli­ca­tions had al­ready been re­jected by Ger­many should be turned away if they try to re-en­ter.

Ms Merkel ar­gues re­fus­ing mi­grants at bor­ders could vi­o­late EU rules

Chan­cel­lor An­gela Merkel leaves the Re­ich­stag in Ber­lin af­ter a day of wran­gling within the CDU and the CSU

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Ireland

© PressReader. All rights reserved.