Germany’s ultra-conservative interior minister has threatened to end the coalition government with Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats amid a growing row over stricter measures to address the refugee crisis.
Christian Social Union (CSU) leader and Interior Minister Horst Seehofer told a local daily on Friday that he would not back away from his controversial “migration master plan”, which foresees turning away most of the asylum-seekers at Germany’s border.
“I am the chairman of the CSU, one of the three parties of the coalition government, and I have the full backing of my party. If the Chancellery is dissatisfied with the work of the interior minister, then one has to end the coalition,” he told Passauer Neuen Presse newspaper.
Seehofer earlier gave Chancellor Merkel a two-week deadline until the end of this month, to adopt stricter migration and asylum rules in agreement with other EU member states.
He vowed to start implementing his plan beginning from July 1 and argued that as the interior minister he has the right to implement such measures, even if the chancellor opposes them.
Chancellor Merkel is strongly opposed to Seehofer’s plan and said such a unilateral move would have “a domino effect”, prompting other EU member states to push back refugees and further increase the burden of member states like Italy and Greece.
The controversial plan foresees turning away asylum-seekers at Germany’s border if they entered the EU from another member state and first registered there. Or if they had already applied for asylum and been rejected.
Merkel is scheduled to meet leaders of several other EU member states in Brussels on Sunday for an informal mini-summit on the refugee crisis.
Earlier, she suggested negotiating bilateral agreements with the EU partners and accordingly send back asylum seekers to the country where they first registered and applied for asylum within the 28-member bloc.
Germany received more than a million refugees in the last three years, mostly from Syria and Iraq.
Merkel’s decision in 2015 to open doors for refugees fleeing conflicts was widely criticized and exploited by the far-right parties.
Her CDU and its sister party CSU have suffered heavy losses in the country’s federal elections last year, while the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) scored record gains and entered the parliament for the first time.