Tuesday

18th Sep 2018

Migration is 'mother of all problems', says German interior minister

  • The Bavarian christian-democrat of Horst Seehofer (c) distants itself from chancellor Merkel (Photo: Blu News)

Migration is "the mother of all problems", German interior minister Horst Seehofer is reported to have said on Wednesday (5 September).

According to Die Welt and Bild newspapers, Seehofer made the statement at a closed-doors meeting with members of his Christian-Social Union (CSU) party, the Bavarian branch of chancellor Angela Merkel CDU party.

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The CSU is holding a two-day congress in Neuhardenberg, near Berlin, about a month before regional elections, on 14 October.

With the CSU set to lose ground to the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD), Seehofer's comments demonstrate the party's attempt to appear tougher than the AfD and to distinguish itself from Merkel.

Speaking to party members, Seehofer expressed sympathy for people in Chemnitz who protested against migration in the wake of the murder of a German, allegedly by a Syrian and an Iraqi.


The protests included demonstrations by neo-Nazi groups and violence against foreign-looking people.

The interior minister said he understood that people were "troubled" and "outraged" by the murder.

"People have to know that we understand such indignation after such a brutal crime," he said. He added that the crime was "in no way an appeal to violence", however.

Also speaking in Neuhardenberg, the CSU group's chief in the Bundestag, Alexander Dobrindt, said that "the issues of security, order and migration [were] central".

The campaign line follows a showdown between Seehofer and Merkel earlier this year, over refugees coming to Germany, in which the interior minister had threatened to resign if borders were not made secure.

The CSU, which last year invited Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orban to its meeting, an opponent of Merkel's EU policies, is also provoking the chancellor this year.

It invited the US ambassador to Germany, Richard Grenell, a close ally to US president Donald Trump, who said earlier this year that he wanted to "empower other conservatives throughout Europe".

According to the Handelsblatt daily, the CSU meeting's draft closing statement said that "no country [other than the US] is as close to us culturally, historically, and economically."

By contrast, last year's CDU election programme had removed traditional references to the US as a "friend".

Contrary to Merkel's opinion that Europe can no longer rely on the US and must "take its destiny into its own hands," the statement also said that "Europe shouldn't become a counterweight to the US; rather, the US and Europe should together be a counterweight to those who undermine our Western values."

The CSU is the party of Manfred Weber, the leader of the centre-right group in the European Parliament, who announced on Wednesday that he was a candidate to become president of the European Commission next year.

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