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Merkel migration row 'over,' says Seehofer

July 8, 2018

German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer says his standoff with Chancellor Angela Merkel over asylum policy is "history." He had threatened to resign unless Germany turns away asylum-seekers at its border.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Interior Minister Horst Seehofer shake hands
Image: picture-alliance/dpa/K. Nietfeld

German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer, who leads the Christian Social Union (CSU), the Bavarian sister party to Angela Merkel's conservative Christian Democratic Union (CDU), said on Sunday that coalition members are looking to the future after a bitter spat over Germany's asylum policy.

"We're facing forward," Seehofer said in comments printed in Bild am Sonntag. "I always say the windscreen is larger than the rearview mirror. That's the principle to which we always held."

Read more: Things to know about Bavaria's Christian Social Union

No apologies

Seehofer noted that he saw no reason for apologies.

"We had a dispute about details. But there were no personal attacks in any way. When that happens, you can still look each other in the eyes after a fight." He said it was the "duty and responsibility" of him and Merkel to now work well together.

Merkel-Seehofer faceoff

The dispute was sparked by Seehofer's demanding that Germany turn away asylum-seekers at its borders. Chancellor Angela Merkel said this would violate the EU's principle of freedom of movement.

Seehofer and the CSU had threatened to impose border checks against the chancellor's will if she didn't reach a satisfactory deal with other EU member states, sparking speculation that he would be fired if he acted unilaterally. 

Read more: The man who could have brought down Angela Merkel  

Bavaria's October vote

Seehofer had threatened to either resign or bring down the coalition — which, in addition to the CDU-CSU conservative bloc, includes the center-left Social Democrats — over Germany's asylum policy.

The party leaders of the three-way governing coalition agreed on Thursday to counter illegal immigration into Germany, as well as introduce tougher asylum policies.

Opposition parties accused Seehofer of hardening his stance on migration to gain support from Alternative for Germany (AfD) voters in October's regional elections in Bavaria, Germany's southernmost state, where hundreds of thousands of displaced people entered the country in 2015 and 2016. The anti-immigrant AfD party gained a lot of followers and is now Germany's biggest opposition party.

Read more: German government agrees on migration compromise

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kw/ls (AP, dpa)