Thursday

18th Oct 2018

Merkel pushes for transit zones, warns of military clashes

  • Merkel needs to bring SPD leader Gabriel Sigmar on board with transit zones (Photo: bundeskanzlerin.de)

German chancellor Angela Merkel defended the deal on transit zones reached with her rebellious sister party on Sunday and said her coalition partners needed to be convinced of it.

Merkel also warned against military presence in the Balkans, in case borders close on the migration route.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

Speaking to supporters of her conservative Christian Democrats (CDU) in the western city of Darmstadt on Monday evening, Merkel said the Social Democrats (SPD) need to support the transit zones.

Merkel's open-door policy towards refugees has created tensions within her ruling coalition that threaten the stability of the government.

She struck a deal on Sunday with Bavarian premier and CSU leader Horst Seehofer, who is pushing for so-called transit zones along the border to make it easer to filter economic migrants and people in genuine need of protection.

SPD opposes the idea of large centres along the border, where migrants will be detained.

"We continue to negotiate. It is not the first time that we have to convince the SPD of reasonable things," she told the 2000-strong crowd in Darmstadt.

"Germany will help all people who are looking for protection from wars and persecution," she said, adding that it is just as important to return people who came for economic reasons to Germany.

"The creation of transit zones for quick decisions is therefore the right way," she said.

Merkel made it clear that she sees transit zones as a political alternative to closing the border with Austria, something she is reluctant to do as it would unravel one of the European Union's signature achievements: border-free travel.

Yet, the refugee flow must be slowed for Germany, whose municipalities and local government can barely provide enough beds for the daily arrival of 10,000-12,000 people.

Other countries along the migration route, however, are not interested in slowing the flow, out of fear that the migrants would remain.

Borders risk wars

The embattled chancellor, who is increasingly being seen as isolated as the refugee crisis threatens her political future, warned of military conflicts in the Balkans if the borders along the migrant route to Germany were to be closed.

Looking at the results after Hungary closed its border with Serbia in September, Merkel said: "There will be disruptions."

After Hungary diverted the preferred route for migrants and refugees, people diverted towards the ex-Yugoslav republics of Serbia, Croatia and Slovenia to eventually reach Germany.

She said already high tensions among these countries prompted the recent meeting in Brussels with leaders from the region.

"Because I do not want [us to go] there again ... military conflicts," Merkel said.

On Thursday, Merkel will have to defend her deal to the CSU and convince the SPD to sign up for the plan on transit zones in a meeting with Seehofer and Social Democrat leader Sigmar Gabriel.

Merkel also said at the CDU gathering that Germany will have to conduct a much more active foreign policy.

"We're experiencing something we've never experienced before, that conflicts that appear to be far away, suddenly are here on our doorstep," Merkel told the meeting.

Merkel's party displays unity on refugees

Ahead of Thursday's difficult talks with her coalition partner on transit zones, Angela Merkel's own party union displays unity on the refugee crisis.

Greece relocates first asylum seekers

30 Syrians and Iraqis flew from Greece to Luxembourg on Wednesday morning. The total number of relocated asylum seekers in the EU is now 116.

No transit zones on German borders for now

German coalition partners have layed differences to rest over transit zones on the border, with a deal on reception centres inside Germany and faster asylum decisions.

News in Brief

  1. Rutte: summit was 'not the moment' for higher climate ambition
  2. Legal text for Brexit relocation EU agencies agreed
  3. Greek foreign minister resigns over Macedonia deal
  4. No Brexit backstop means no approval, says EU parliament
  5. Poland questions supremacy of EU court
  6. Medvedev to meet Juncker and Merkel in Brussels
  7. Italians and Czechs least favourable to remaining in EU
  8. Facebook hack set to be first major test of EU data rules

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. International Partnership for Human RightsOpen letter to Emmanuel Macron ahead of Uzbek president's visit
  2. International Partnership for Human RightsRaising key human rights concerns during visit of Turkmenistan's foreign minister
  3. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSState of the Nordic Region presented in Brussels
  4. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe vital bioeconomy. New issue of “Sustainable Growth the Nordic Way” out now
  5. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe Nordic gender effect goes international
  6. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSPaula Lehtomaki from Finland elected as the Council's first female Secretary General
  7. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSNordic design sets the stage at COP24, running a competition for sustainable chairs.
  8. Counter BalanceIn Kenya, a motorway funded by the European Investment Bank runs over roadside dwellers
  9. ACCACompany Law Package: Making the Best of Digital and Cross Border Mobility,
  10. International Partnership for Human RightsCivil Society Worried About Shortcomings in EU-Kyrgyzstan Human Rights Dialogue
  11. UNESDAThe European Soft Drinks Industry Supports over 1.7 Million Jobs
  12. Mission of China to the EUJointly Building Belt and Road Initiative Leads to a Better Future for All

Latest News

  1. Asylum reforms derailed, as EU looks to north Africa
  2. EU leaders worried about Italy's budget
  3. Russian activist warning on 'fake news' as EU backs action
  4. Kaczynski: No question of Polish EU exit
  5. EU summit to accept urgency of climate action – but no measures planned
  6. MEPs demand more from EU on human rights in Asia
  7. EU migration solutions are on the table - let's adopt them
  8. No progress at Brexit summit, talks continue

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us