Germany: Interior minister gives Merkel ultimatum on migrants


German chancellor Angela Merkel has been one of the most welcoming political leaders in Europe by opening the borders and letting in an estimated one million migrants over the last 3 years and now that kindness is coming back to bite as her own party turn on her which may see the end of her political career as early as this week.

Seehofer, whose party is more socially conservative than Merkel's, has always been a critic of the chancellor's immigration policies, particularly her decision to open Germany's borders at the height of the refugee crisis in 2015.

Merkel said she would seek agreement with European nations at a June 28-29 EU summit, but stressed there was "no automatism" about rejecting asylum seekers if no deals are reached.

The tweets come as Merkel is in a stand-off with her interior minister over new immigration curbs.

The CSU faces a crucial state election in its home of Bavaria in October, and its hardline stance has widely been interpreted as an electioneering tactic as it attempts to claw back voters lost to the anti-immigrant Alternative für Deutschland party.

"No one in the CSU is interested in bringing the chancellor down, or dissolving the CDU/CSU parliamentary partnership or destroying the coalition", Seehofer told the Bild am Sonntag newspaper, adding that he did not want the asylum row to endanger the coalition government which is less than 100 days old.

"It is in Germany's interest to achieve the regulation of migration in a good partnership with our European neighbours", Merkel said after her CDU's leadership met.

"We think that turning people back without consultation at our borders, as a country at the heart of Europe, could lead to negative domino effects that could also hurt Germany and ultimately lead to the questioning of European unity".

Merkel has been asking her coalition to delay addressing the question until European Union leaders convene in Brussels to discuss immigration and other issues affecting the 28 members of the bloc on June 28 and 29.

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Merkel's talks on Monday evening with Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte could prove crucial if she is to have any chance of forging an agreement in Brussels. "If we're in a talks situation in a few weeks, we'll talk", she said.

In an unprecedented split between the CDU and CSU, Seehofer has openly defied Merkel with a demand to allow border police to turn back migrants who lack valid identity papers or are already registered in another European Union country.

Seehofer said he had told fellow leaders that "we're not out of the woods yet".

He said he would go ahead with preparations to block some asylum-seekers at the border.

"I've got the support of the European partners for negotiations in the European Council".

Conte, who was visiting Germany for the first time since assuming office on June 1, said Italy wanted changes to European Union immigration rules to ensure other European Union countries share the burden of handling refugees.

Most first arrived in Bavaria, which borders Austria.

Germany's migration row mirrors squalls seen across Europe since Merkel's decision in 2015 to open Germany's borders to more than a million migrants fleeing wars in the Middle East, transforming the demographic landscape nearly overnight.

Merkel and Seehofer papered over the cracks ahead of last year's national election, but support for both parties still dropped significantly. Monday's compromise means he can introduce immediate expulsion for one subset of migrants.