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Wednesday, 28 October 2020

Berlin says EU summit won't solve migration problem

AFP , Friday 22 Jun 2018
German Chancellor Angela Merkel and German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer attend an event on the occasion of the World Refugee Day on June 20, 2018 at the German Historical Museum in Berlin (Photo:AFP)
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Germany played down expectations Friday that an EU summit next week will reach a European solution to the migration issue that is threatening the survival of Chancellor Angela Merkel's government.

"The EU summit late next week will not reach a solution to the overall migration problem," conceded government spokeswoman Ulrike Demmer, predicting instead "bilateral, trilateral and multilateral" deals to tackle the issue.

The comments came after Italy's new coalition of far-right and anti-establishment parties has made clear it does not want to take in more migrants and after several eastern European states said they would stay away from preliminary talks on the issue Sunday.

Merkel, after allowing more than one million asylum seekers into Germany since 2015, faced a strong domestic backlash that has now turned into a government crisis.

Her hardline Interior Minister Horst Seehofer has given her an ultimatum till the end of the month to reach EU deals allowing Germany to turn back asylum seekers already registered in another member country.

After that, he has vowed to defy her by ordering German border police to turn back those migrants, setting the stage for a showdown that could end Merkel's fragile coalition government.

Since then, European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker has called a mini-summit of member states most affected by migration in Brussels on Sunday, at the urging of Berlin.

But Demmer also lowered expectations for those talks, stressing it was merely "a working meeting".

She said the talks would not issue a final declaration, a turn-around after a "draft statement" with tough new measures had been reported on by several German newspapers this week.

"Sunday will be a first exchange between interested and affected member states, no more and no less," she said at a regular Berlin press conference.

"That's why Sunday will primarily be about the possibility of reaching bilateral and multilateral agreements for all problems of migration, be it secondary or primary migration."

"And then we will see whether bilateral, trilateral or multilateral agreements can be reached, because right now there won't be a quick pan-European solution."

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