Global

Donald Trump weighs in on German immigration debate

Donald Trump weighs in on German immigration debate

"We don't want what is happening with immigration in Europe to happen with us!" he said in a pair of tweets.

Merkel's spokesman Steffen Seibert told reporters that "various aspects of migration policy will be discussed" at the bilateral talks with Giuseppe Conte late Monday.

Driven in part by the civil war in Syria, the number of asylum seekers entering Germany began to rise sharply in 2013, when it reached nearly 110,000, and then soared after Merkel changed the policy in the summer of 2015.

But it showed the bloc is trying to accommodate a new, anti-establishment government in Italy, as well as Berlin where Mrs Merkel's coalition partner issued an ultimatum for an EU-wide deal on migration.

However, Mr. Trump's claim that Germans were turning against their leaders because of an increase in crime spurred by immigration was easily debunked by a report last month from Mr. Seehofer's own ministry showing a almost 10% drop in crime past year, to the lowest point since 1992.

Now, however, Merkel will have to make several hard decisions about how to cope with the influx of migrants.

Her Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and its sister party CSU have suffered heavy losses in the country's federal elections a year ago, while the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) scored record gains and entered the parliament for the first time.

Several high-profile crimes by migrants have also fuelled public anger.

Conversely, if Merkel accepts Seehofer's plan, it would cause a domino effect across the Balkans, as countries such as Austria and Slovenia could follow suit and close their own borders to migration.

Macron also said Paris and Berlin wanted agreements that would allow European Union member states to reject at their borders asylum seekers already registered elsewhere in the bloc - usually the first port of entry.

"In essence, that is a scandal", he said.

Seehofer's remarks don't come as a surprise: His CSU faces a tight election in the German state of Bavaria.

But Merkel says Seehofer's unilateral measure would leave countries at the EU's southern periphery alone to deal with the influx.

Merkel has reportedly urged Seehofer to give her until the European Union summit at the end of June, but the Bavarian has kept up pressure for a solution to be found in the coming days. Merkel opposes such a ban. Matteo Salvini, head of the nationalist League and interior minister in the new government, has already talked to his German counterpart about cooperating on immigration policy.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron address the media during a joint press conference at Schloss Meseberg governmental palace during German-French government consultations on June 19, 2018 near Gransee, Germany.

Merkel stressed that the two coalition parties would not like to see "a repeat of the situation that existed in 2015" when Germany took in some 1 million migrants fleeing war and poverty in countries such as Syria.

Seibert declined to elaborate ahead of the meeting, which will be preceded by statements from the leaders.

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies said Monday that more than 5,600 migrants entering Europe through Greece have reached Bosnia and Herzegovina so far this year, compared with 754 in all of 2017.

But the chancellor may have no choice, given Seehofer's vow to launch the nuclear option of shutting Germany's borders in defiance of her - an act of rebellion which would force his sacking.


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