Merkel averts coalition government spilt over migrants

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Berlin, July 3 (IANS) German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s coalition government remains intact after she reached a deal over the country’s migration policy, ending a political standoff with her Interior Minister.

Minister Horst Seehofer dropped his threat to resign after hours of talks on Monday on the migration row that threatened to split Merkel’s four-month-old coalition government, the BBC reported.

Seehofer, the leader of the Christian Social Union (CSU), the Bavarian sister party of Merkel’s Christian Democrats (CDU), was at a stalemate with the Chancellor over how the country should deal with asylum seekers arriving at the country’s southern borders.

Seehofer had earlier offered to resign as Interior Minister and as leader of the CSU on Sunday, but was later persuaded by CSU colleagues to meet Merkel in an attempt to resolve the disagreement.

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After Monday talks, Merkel agreed to tighten controls at the Austrian border to stop people who have applied for asylum in other EU countries from entering Germany. Transit centres will be set up to hold them until they can be sent back.

The Chancellor described the deal as a good compromise after tough negotiation. However, as per reports, questions were already being asked about how it will work on the border with Austria.

The government in Vienna said it would prepare measures to protect its southern borders and seek a quick clarification of the German decision.

“After intensive discussions between the CDU and CSU, we have reached an agreement on how we can in future prevent illegal immigration on the border between Germany and Austria,” Seehofer told reporters while leaving the CDU’s Berlin headquarters.

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He said the the deal ensured that he would hold his post as the Interior Minister. “I’m pleased we managed to get this agreement — it has shown again it’s worth fighting for something like this. Now we have a tenable clear agreement for the future.”

But, according to a CNN report, neither Merkel nor Seehofer will be fully satisfied. The Chancellor had to abandon her bid for bloc-wide deals in favour of bilateral arrangements, while Seehofer conceded defeat on his goal to turn away all asylum seekers directly at the border who are already registered elsewhere.

The plans will also require the approval of the Social Democratic Party, which is the third party in Merkel’s coalition and favours a more liberal approach to migration. The party has not yet responded to the announcement.

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–IANS

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