The way Germany has dealt with the massive influx of asylum seekers and its decision to close its borders and set up transit zones – effectively throwing out the Schengen agreement – has caused a major political crisis which threatens to split the governing coalition.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU) has reached an agreement with Horst Seehofer (CSU) the Governor of Bavaria — which has borne the brunt of the refugee crisis on its border with Austria — to set up transit zones in the southern state to hold and process migrants and refugees.
Those who are not refugees from warzones and whose asylum request stands no chance will be sent back from those zones. But the decision to set up the camps and impose border controls has set off a bitter political battle that threatens to split the grand coalition of the German Government.
Merkel leads a coalition of her own party (CDU), Seehofer’s party (CSU) — the black part of the coalition — with the Social Democratic SPD Party led by Sigmar Gabriel, who is also Minister for Economic Affairs and Energy and Vice Chancellor of Germany since 2013.
However, a row has broken out after Interior minister, Thomas de Maiziere (CDU), announced border controls and transit zones which would take effect immediately. He told journalists:
“This step has become necessary.”
He said the crisis was such that asylum seekers had to understand “they cannot choose the states where they are seeking protection.”
“Prison for Men, Women and Children”
However, the Frankfurter Allgemeine newspaper reported Tuesday:
“The controversy over the creation of transit zones at the borders is set to make the red-black coalition even more explosive.”
Justice Minister Keiko Maas (SPD) told the ARD Tagesthemen program that 100,000 people arriving at the border every months meant the situation would be difficult to negotiate.
Those who want to allow more migrants into Britain would do well to reflect on the chaos in Germany.
— Roger Helmer (@RogerHelmerMEP) October 6, 2015
The foreign policy spokesman for the SPD, Niels Annen, expressed concern over how the transit zones would work. He told RBB Info Radio: “I believe that the [CDU/CSU}, which has submitted this proposal should immediately tell us in detail how it could work” and explain what the boundaries “quasi prison-like detention institutions” should be.
But the CDU/CSU group parliamentary leader Volker Kauder (CDU) told the Rheinische Post newspaper Tuesday that he considered such a plan made sense.
“The Coalition is now preparing transit zones at land borders that are basically consistent with EU procedures and we are working on their implementation.”
SPD General Secretary Yasmin Fahimi also rejected transit zones saying:
“They [transit zones] are not practical and the proposal — as it exists — is not humane.”
This was reiterated by the Integration Commissioner of the Federal Government, Aydan Özoguz (SPD), who said the transit camps would be “a kind of prison for men, women and children” and that this was “neither practical nor feasible from a humanitarian perspective.”
Over 1/2 of those who entered Germany this year are "migrants" not "refugees", says May. Can anyone cite any evidence for this? @UNHCRUK?
— Refugee Action (@RefugeeAction) October 6, 2015
As Merkel struggles to convince her European counterparts to pull together on immigrations policy, she faces the red-black alliance of her grand coalition government tearing itself apart over the issue.