Merkel aide down­plays flap over Syria asy­lum ini­tia­tive

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

BER­LIN: Ger­man Chan­cel­lor An­gela Merkel’s chief of staff down­played a short­lived ini­tia­tive by the coun­try’s in­te­rior min­is­ter to give many Syr­i­ans re­stricted asy­lum, in­sist­ing yes­ter­day that pro­ce­dures re­main un­changed.

In­te­rior Min­is­ter Thomas de Maiziere ap­peared to sur­prise Merkel’s gov­ern­ing coali­tion when he said Fri­day that many Syr­i­ans should get “sub­sidiary pro­tec­tion,” which comes with only a one-year re­new­able res­i­dence per­mit and wouldn’t al­low them to bring rel­a­tives to Ger­many for two years. Amid crit­i­cism, he shelved the idea hours later.

Vice Chan­cel­lor Sig­mar Gabriel has said the idea ap­par­ently was pro­duced in the In­te­rior Min­istry with­out con­sul­ta­tion. Merkel’s chief of staff, Pe­ter Alt­maier, made clear in an in­ter­view with Deutsch­land­funk ra­dio he wasn’t in­formed that the ini­tia­tive had been launched. It re­mains un­clear why the con­ser­va­tive de Maiziere’s min­istry made an ap­par­ent solo de­ci­sion which an­gered mem­bers of Gabriel’s cen­ter-left So­cial Democrats, but gov­ern­ment lead­ers ap­pear keen to avoid fur­ther po­lit­i­cal in­fight­ing. The min­is­ter’s an­nounce­ment came only a day af­ter Merkel’s coali­tion ended a dam­ag­ing, week­s­long ar­gu­ment over how to speed up pro­cess­ing of mi­grants with poor asy­lum prospects. Alt­maier, who was put in charge last month of co­or­di­nat­ing refugee mat­ters, called it “a dis­cus­sion the day be­fore yes­ter­day ... that is now set­tled.” He said noth­ing will be changed “uni­lat­er­ally.”

“Pro­ce­dures for Syr­i­ans will con­tinue to be han­dled as they have been so far,” he said.

Gabriel made sim­i­larly con­cil­ia­tory com­ments Satur­day, say­ing he con­sid­ered the mat­ter fin­ished. How­ever, a se­nior of­fi­cial from the Chris­tian So­cial Union - the toughtalk­ing Bavar­ian branch of Merkel’s con­ser­va­tive bloc - backed de Maiziere’s idea, sug­gest­ing there is po­ten­tial for the is­sue to fes­ter. Ger­many saw 758,000 refugees and other mi­grants ar­rive be­tween Jan­uary and Oc­to­ber and the gov­ern­ment faces pres­sure to limit the in­flux. Syr­i­ans are the big­gest sin­gle group cur­rently ar­riv­ing. — AP

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Kuwait

© PressReader. All rights reserved.