Germany′s CDU and CSU remain divided over EU-Turkey deal | News | DW | 21.03.2016
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Germany's CDU and CSU remain divided over EU-Turkey deal

Following the EU's deal with Turkey over the refugee crisis, members of Angela Merkel's CDU have said they're hopeful of a decline in refugees. The CSU, however, has voiced concern over the likely visa-freedom for Turks.

Speaking to the Monday edition of local German newspaper "Rheinische Post," Chief of Staff of the German Chancellery Peter Altmaier said the deal between EU and Turkey was a "great chance" to achieve a lower number of refugees.

"The is the biggest and most important step in resolving the refugee crisis," Altmaier said, adding that the "call for an upper limit consequently takes care of itself."

In light of the last year's huge influx of refugees to Germany, there have been several calls for a cap on the number of asylum seekers entering the country, most notably from Horst Seehofer - the leader of the Chrisitan Democratic Union's (CDU) Bavarian sister party, the Christian Social Union (CSU) - who has demanded an upper limit of 200,000 asylum seekers per year.

Chairman of the CDU's Baden-Württemberg faction, Thomas Strobl, said in Monday's edition of "Die Welt," that he too was confident about the EU-Turkey deal.

"We promised a noticeable and sustainable decrease in the number of refugees [in Germany], and that's what we're now delivering," Strobl said, adding that in turn, support for the CDU was likely to rise.

'One-for-one' deal

Under the EU-Turkey deal, which was agreed in Brussels on Friday, any migrant arriving in Europe via the Aegean Sea from last Sunday may be shipped back to Turkey. In return for any Syrian refugees the EU sends back from Greece to Turkey, the EU will take in one Syrian refugee currently in Turkey. This number, however, is to be capped at 72,000.

As part of the agreement, the EU has also agreed to speed up talks concerning Turkey's EU membership as well as visa-free travel for Turkish citizens, which looks likely to begin at the end of June - meaning that they would be able to enter every single one of the 26 Schengen member states without first having to apply for a visa.

Concerns over Kurdish migrants

CSU member and Bavarian Finance Minister Markus Soeder criticized the planned visa-free travel, however, arguing that the change could see more Kurds moving to Germany.

"It could ultimately lead to more immigration, especially if you take visa freedom into account. Many, many Kurds fleeing the Turkish government could come to Germany; Soeder told German public broadcaster ZDF.

The Turkish government has banned the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which is fighting for Kurdish autonomy in Turkey's southeast. Turkey, the US and the EU all consider the PKK a terrorist group.

Expressing similar concerns, Seehofer told German paper "Bild am Sonntag" that the CSU remained skeptical of Ankara's bid to join the EU and would not support Turkey's full EU membership or visa freedom as it would "import Turkey's domestic problems to Germany."

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