Germany’s interior minister vowed Monday to close the border to migrants by July if Angela Merkel fails to find solutions with European partners, but the chancellor rejected the threat.
Merkel said she would seek agreement with European nations at a June 28-29 EU summit, but stressed there was “no automatism” about rejecting asylum seekers if no deals are reached.
She also warned the minister, Horst Seehofer, against defying her, saying she is ultimately in charge of government policies.
But Seehofer, long one of the fiercest critics of Merkel’s liberal refugee policy, said Germany must change direction on immigration.
“I cannot say that we have a grip on the issue,” he told a press conference after huddling with top brass of his CSU party.
He said he had only recently learnt that migrants who had already been denied asylum by Germany or been issued re-entry bans were still being allowed back in.
“In essence, that is a scandal,” he said.
The arrival of more than a million asylum seekers to Germany since 2015 has deeply divided the country and propelled the far-right AfD into parliament for the first time in September’s general election.