In an interview with German broadcaster ARD, Interior Minister Horst Seehofer, who has been involved in a spat with Chancellor Angela Merkel over asylum policies, has expressed optimism they can reach a compromise over migration.
Speaking with ARD, Seehofer, who’s also the head of the Bavarian Christian Social Union (CSU) party, said that he and Merkel were trying to overcome their differences and find a satisfying solution to the migration issue.
“I am very optimistic that we will solve it. I can’t guarantee it, but a firm will is there,” he told the broadcaster.
Seehofer also said that his party was not planning to force the chancellor to resign, neither was it trying to break up the alliance between the CSU and Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU).
The two have been disagreeing over migration policy in the country, with Seehofer pushing for his “master plan” to start turning away asylum-seekers at the German border if they have registered in another EU member-state. Merkel, for her part, refused to accept the bid, insisting on a Europe-wide solution to the migration crisis instead.
The growing rift has undermined Merkel’s position, with Seehofer giving her time until the end of this week’s EU leaders’ summit to agree on migration policies with European allies.
Seehofer elaborated that after the two-day EU summit is over, Merkel would call her coalition partners to discuss the results of the meeting, and then he would speak with her again on June 30.
On Sunday, the Bavarian conservatives will meet to learn about any progress made at the summit and then decide whether to introduce Seehofer’s “master plan.”
When asked if he could leave his office in light of speculations that Merkel could fire him if he unilaterally implemented his plans, Seehofer replied, “There are situations in politics where one has a conviction, and then that conviction is more important than the office.”
Speaking with the German newspaper Sueddeutschen Zeitung ahead of the EU summit, Seehofer said that if the meeting failed to resolve the current row over migration, he would take action.
“My position is clear: if the EU summit finds no suitable solution, we will turn the asylum seekers, registered in other EU countries away,” he said, at the same time blasting Merkel's stance on the issue, "The Chancellor's Office has turned a mosquito into an elephant, and it’s extremely unusual to threaten the chairman of its coalition partner with competence division. We will not put up with that."
Last week, he told the newspaper Passauer Neuer Presse that if Merkel sacked him it would be the first time that “looking after and taking care of the security and order of the country is the reason given for firing a minister.”
"I am the leader of the CSU, one of the three coalition parties, and act with the full support of my party. If the chancellery is not satisfied with the interior minister's work, then the coalition should end," he said.
The German Bundestag has been hit by disagreements between Seehofer and Merkel over refugee policy. The interior minister has delivered a two-week ultimatum to Merkel to find an acceptable solution to the problem at the EU level before he orders border police to start turning back refugees.
Having accepted the demand, Merkel is expected to brief the CDU leadership on the state of her negotiations will the European partners after the EU summit on July 1.
You can read this article as it originally appeared at Sputnik here.
(PHOTO: Sven Mandel / Wiki)