German minister accuses Social Democrats of failing to cooperate over security | News | DW | 08.01.2017
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German minister accuses Social Democrats of failing to cooperate over security

As Germany looks towards a new security structure, Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere has raised doubts over cooperation in the "grand coalition." Current measures have been scrutinized since the Berlin terror attack.

German Interior Minister and Christian Democrat Thomas de Maiziere, has accused the CDU's Social Democrat (SPD) coalition partners of failing to cooperate when it comes to security and terrorism.

In an interview with German weekly, "Bild am Sonntag," de Maiziere said he was not sure whether "everyone in the SPD is ready to take tough measures."

"We could be much farther ahead," de Maziere added. "Especially regarding the concrete improvement of deportation possibilities."

SPD General Secretary Katarina Barley, however, said de Maiziere's criticism of her party was only to "distract from his own failures." She added that the interior minister had not been able to master the situation at the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees, which had allowed suspected Berlin Christmas market attacker Anis Amri to travel in Germany under 14 different aliases.

"Tougher laws would not have prevented a terror attack ahead of time and knee-jerk calls for tightening them now will do just as little," she said.

'Constructive participation'

Ahead of a meeting planned with Justice Minister Heiko Maas (SPD) on Monday, de Maiziere said he is hoping for "constructive participation in concrete proposals."

The interior minister said he plans to see progress in preserving the "important anti-terrorist powers" of Germany's Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA). The exchange of passenger data and establishing a better legal basis for the monitoring of non-Germans will also be discussed.

German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere and Justice Minister Heiko Maas

German Interior Minister de Maiziere (left) is due to meet with Justice Minister Maas on Monday

More control from Berlin

In light of December's fatal terror attack on a Christmas market in Berlin, de Maiziere proposed a far-reaching transfer of authority from state to federal level.

In order to counteract terrorism more effectively, domestic intelligence activities should be placed entirely under federal administration, de Maiziere said, adding that the powers of the BKA and the Federal Police should also to be expanded. Under Germany's federal system of government, each state maintains police and intelligence service officers independently of federal and other state agencies.

Despite criticism from SPD leader and Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel, de Maziere has stood by his proposals.

"Given the importance of the topic, the debate over whether the existing fragmentation of responsibilities in Germany is right is still not a convincing argument in light of the threatening situation," de Maiziere said.

'People want security'

General Secretary of Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democrats, Peter Tauber, also held the SPD responsible for some security failings in the December terrorist attack.

"The CDU already decided on a comprehensive package for internal security in 2014," he told the "Bild am Sonntag." "But that has always been thwarted by the SPD."

Taking a personal swipe at the SPD leader Sigmar Gabriel, who also serves as the federal economy minister, Tauber said it was "often exhausting in the grand coalition because in the morning Sigmar does not know what Gabriel wants in the evening."

Tauber supported fellow Christian Democrat de Maiziere, however, and welcomed the interior minister's proposals for a new security structure.

"People want security," he said. "They do not care whether the federal or state governments are responsible for it."

This also applies to deportations, Tauber added: "I find it difficult when some states complain, on the one hand, that they don't have sufficient capacity for deportations, but on the other reject a stronger participation of the federal government."

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