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CDU denies migration mediator role for Schäuble

June 15, 2018

Members of Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democrats have denied a report that Wolfgang Schäuble was asked to step in and mediate a migration policy compromise with the Bavarian CSU.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel speaks with Wolfgang Schäuble
Image: Reuters/F. Bensch

Politicians from Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democratic Union have said no role has been offered to Bundestag President Wolfgang Schäuble to help find a compromise on migration policy with the CDU's Bavarian sister party, the Christian Social Union.

An escalating disagreement between Merkel and Interior Minister Horst Seehofer over migration policy is threatening to tear apart the ruling conservatives, who currently govern with the Social Democrats (SPD).

The Rheinische Post newspaper had reported on Friday that Volker Kauder, head of the CDU's parliamentary group and one of the most powerful people in Merkel's party, saw Schäuble as having "credibility on both sides" due to his past criticism of Germany's refugee policies and his unwavering loyalty to Merkel.

Merkel under pressure on asylum

Game of Thrones power play

The conservative bloc's coalition partner, the Social Democrats, came out on Friday in support of Merkel and criticized the conservatives' internal fighting.

SPD party head and Parliamentary Leader Andrea Nahles urged the CDU and CSU to "use the weekend to return to an objective and cooperative level."

"The right decisions for Germany can only be found with Europe," she urged, backing Merkel's plans to seek an agreement with other European Union member states about migration.

Finance Minister Olaf Scholz, an SPD politician, said the fight for control over German conservatism resembled a popular television show.

"The task of governing our country is not an episode of Game of Thrones, but rather a serious matter," Scholz said.

Collision course over border checks

The two conservative parties have been butting heads over Seehofer's "immigration master plan" for overhauling German migration policy.

In particular, Merkel has explicitly ruled out Seehofer's proposal to turn away migrants and those seeking asylum at Germany's border if they have already registered in other EU states.

Instead, the chancellor hopes to secure migration agreements with other EU members at a European Union summit in two weeks' time.

Seehofer and the CSU have threatened to go off on their own if Merkel won't agree to their plan. Seehofer is expected to announce the start of border checks on Monday, using his authority as interior minister. If he follows through on the move, Merkel will be put in the difficult position of either backing down from her position or rebuking and possibly firing Seehofer.

The CSU is also facing state elections in Bavaria in October where they're hoping to defend their absolute majority against the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD).

UNHCR cautions against unilateral moves 

The United Nations' refugee agency (UNHCR) has cautioned Germany against taking unilateral action in its refugee policy, saying the proposed new measures would violate Germany's international commitments.

"Germany is obligated to check which country is responsible for those who are seeking protection and asylum at the border," Dominik Bartsch, the head of the UNHCR in Germany, told German newspaper Die Welt.

"In any case, the affected people must be allowed to stay for the duration of this check," he emphasized.

Bartsch backed efforts to find an EU-wide solution to solving migration policy issues, saying that proposed unilateral moves "don't just harm refugees, but also Europe as well."

rs/sms (AFP, dpa, Reuters)

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