Austria to 'protect' borders after German migrant deal

04 July, 2018, 17:01 | Author: Diane Mills
  • German coalition teeters as minister offers to resign over migrants

Mr. Seehofer on Sunday rejected as insufficient an European Union plan to limit migrant flows backed by Ms. Merkel and her party.

Merkel, who has long favored open borders between European countries, agreed to allow "transit centers" along the Austrian border for the goal of screening asylum seekers. "How we deal with the migrant question will decide whether Europe continues to exist in the future", she said, referring to her embattled attempts to secure deals with other European Union members to accept the return of refugees who had registered in their countries.

The CSU party boss and now the head of Germany's newly christened interior and homeland ministry has deemed inadequate the European Union deals reached by Merkel allowing the return of some asylum seekers. Under EU law, those people must be taken in and arrangements made on a case by case basis to send them back to the first country of entry.

It is unclear what effect Seehofer's resignation as interior minister and CSU leader, if he goes through with it, would have on the alliance between the two conservative parties and their governing coalition with the center-left Social Democrats.

They said they would either be sent back to European Union countries that previously registered them or, in case arrival countries reject this - likely including frontline state Italy - be sent back to Austria, pending a now questionable agreement with Vienna.

"Horst Seehofer is not concerned with finding a solution to migration policy; he wants to open the door to right-wing populism and overthrow the chancellor", she said. Should Merkel succeed in defusing the migrant policy crisis and reuniting the conservative bloc, she would partly restore her aura of invulnerability and show that, to paraphrase Mark Twain, reports of her political demise were greatly exaggerated.

"It is worthwhile to prevent this conflict from becoming a real war", she said, adding however that this "would require both sides" to take steps.

More news: Mesut Ozil clashes with Germany fans following shock World Cup 2018 exit

Meanwhile, the SPD said they would be meeting to discuss whether the compromise between the two conservative parties was acceptable to them.

Her own interior minister, Horst Seehofer, has threatened to resign.

Both sides hammered out "a truly good compromise ... after a tough struggle and hard days", Merkel said, describing the holding and processing centres. To save her coalition, Merkel agreed to build transit camps for refugees trying to cross into Germany from Austria.

It is the impending Bavarian state election in October that forced Mr. Seehofer's hand in seeking a confrontation on the migration issue.

Nevertheless, the anti-refugee, anti-Islam Alternative for Germany (AfD) was propelled into federal parliament for the first time previous year by outrage over immigration, leading to months of paralysis while Merkel struggled to put together a workable coalition.

Public anger and fear about the newcomers has given rise to the far-right, anti-Islam Alternative for Germany (AfD) party, which entered parliament previous year and threatens Seehofer's CSU in Bavarian state polls in October.

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