Merkel rejects ultimatum on migrants, has two weeks to reach EU deal

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German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Volker Bouffier react as they attend the board meeting of Germany's Christian Democratic Union (CDU) in Berlin, Germany, June 18 2018. (Reuters)

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has rejected German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer’s ultimatum on migrants but has two weeks to find a solution for influx of migrants ahead of the June 28-29 EU talks.

Bavaria’s Christian Social Union (CSU) on Monday gave German Chancellor Angela Merkel two weeks to reach a European deal on migrants before they would demand immigration curbs that could fracture her governing coalition.

The CSU leadership agreed on Monday to delay until after a June 28-29 European Union summit the introduction of an entry ban for refugees who have already registered in other EU countries, allowing Merkel time to reach a multilateral deal.

Merkel opposes any unilateral move by German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer, who is also CSU chairman, that would reverse her 2015 open-door policy on migrants and undermine her authority.

Monday’s compromise means he can introduce immediate expulsion for one subset of migrants.

“We wish the chancellor much luck,” Seehofer told a news conference in Munich, announcing that he would nonetheless issue orders for people who have already been expelled to be turned back at the borders.

“This is not about winning time or anything like that but rather that in July, if there is no result at European level, we must implement this – that is a question for the functioning of our constitutional state,” he added.

‘Nothing automatic’

Merkel welcomed compromise in the dispute, which has threatened to destabilise a coalition cobbled together just three months ago, and said her Christian Democrat (CDU) party would decide how to proceed after the two-week deadline elapsed.

“After the European Council, the (CDU) party presidency will decide what to do next,” she told a news conference. “There is nothing automatic.”

Merkel has insisted that an EU-wide settlement can be reached at a June 28-29 Brussels summit, and says Seehofer’s plan to turn away migrants who have previously been expelled would prejudice her chances of reaching that deal.

German Interior Minister and leader of the Christian Social Union (CSU) Party Horst Seehofer arrives for a press conference after the party meeting at the CSU headquarters in Munich on June 18 2018. Germany's interior minister vowed to begin turning back migrants at the border by July if Angela Merkel fails to find solutions with European partners, but the chancellor rejected the threat.
German Interior Minister and leader of the Christian Social Union (CSU) Party Horst Seehofer arrives for a press conference after the party meeting at the CSU headquarters in Munich on June 18 2018. Germany’s interior minister vowed to begin turning back migrants at the border by July if Angela Merkel fails to find solutions with European partners, but the chancellor rejected the threat. (AFP)

The CSU, which faces regional elections in October, fears it could be toppled from its decades-old perch atop the wealthy southern state by the anti-immigration Alternative for Germany (AfD) party if it does not tighten policy towards migrants.

Merkel’s woes come as European Union countries are once again at loggerheads over immigration, triggered by Italy’s refusal this month to allow a rescue ship carrying 630 migrants to dock.

Malta also turned the vessel away, sparking a major EU row until Spain agreed to take in the new arrivals.

Merkel’s open-door migrant policy is widely blamed for the rise of the right-wing AfD, now the main opposition party in Germany’s federal parliament.

Seehofer has been one of the fiercest critics of Merkel’s liberal stance.

He wants to turn away at the border new arrivals who have previously been registered in another EU country – often their first port of call, Italy or Greece. Instead, Merkel wants to find a common European solution at the EU summit in Brussels.

“How Germany acts will decide whether Europe stays together or not,” Merkel told her CDU party’s leadership at a meeting in Berlin, according to participants.

More than 1.6 million migrants, mostly Muslims fleeing wars in the Middle East, have arrived in Germany since 2014.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies
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