Horst Seehofer, premier of Bavaria, the German state that has seen the highest number of arriving asylum-seekers, says his government is working with Chancellor Angela Merkel’s to bring in rules that would allow migrants who are citizens of countries deemed safe to be turned away at the border.
Horst Seehofer, premier of Bavaria, the German state that has seen the highest number of arriving asylum-seekers, says his government is working with Chancellor Angela Merkel’s to bring in rules that would allow migrants who are citizens of countries deemed safe to be turned away at the border. Andreas Gebert/EPA
As migrants stream across Germany’s borders by the thousands, Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives have hatched a plan to set up “transit zones” to filter out those who clearly have no chance of gaining asylum, the premier of Bavaria, the country’s biggest state, said Monday.
Premier Horst Seehofer said a concrete proposal would be drawn up by the Bavarian government, Merkel’s federal government, and their respective ruling political parties this week.
Merkel said the idea was to stop directly at the border those people who were coming from countries deemed as safe.
“We’re still in talks,” Merkel added, referring to strong reservations about the proposal among leading members of Germany’s Social Democratic Party, the junior partner in her coalition.
But Merkel insisted: “It must be clear that Germany is helping those who have a prospect of staying. And those who haven’t, can’t get help in our country.”
In an interview in Germany’s Bild newspaper, she said new regulations should be in place by November and there would “definitely” be no tax increases to help care for the estimated 800,000 newcomers — if not more — the country is expected to take in this year.
Block Balkan citizens
Merkel’s government is aiming to speed up assessment and extradition procedures for asylum-seekers from southeastern Europe, in order to focus on war refugees originally from states such as Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan.
The aim is to widen the list of countries deemed safe, meaning their citizens have no claim to asylum, to include Kosovo, Albania and Montenegro. Among those already in that category are Serbia, Macedonia and Bosnia.
Germany has said repeatedly that refugees fleeing Syria’s civil war or other conflicts can almost be guaranteed to be given asylum, while but others seeking to better their economic situation, primarily from the Balkans, will almost certainly be sent home.
With its relatively liberal asylum laws and generous benefits, Germany has become a magnet for many of the hundreds of thousands of refugees and migrants fleeing war and poverty in the Middle East, Africa and Asia.
While Merkel has repeatedly said that Germany can cope with the unprecedented influx and will even benefit from it, communities around the country are struggling to house and support the refugees. Her party has slipped in opinion polls.
Migrants could be turned back at border
Bavaria, the point of entry for many of those reaching Germany, said on Friday it was at the limit of its capacity.
A draft bill circulated by Germany’s Interior Ministry provides for transit zones to hold refugees at border crossings so asylum requests can be examined before they are allowed in.
The bill, which reporters for the Reuters news agency have seen, says this will allow those whose applications are inadmissible or clearly unfounded to be turned back directly at the border.
This would affect people without papers or with fake documents, migrants from countries deemed “safe”, or those who do not present sufficient reason to justify an asylum request.