The decision of Chancellor Angela Merkel to invite into Germany thousands of migrants stuck in Hungary has opened splits in her conservative bloc. Bavarian allies have accused her of sending a “totally wrong signal” to the rest of Europe.
The divisions erupted after Angela Merkel and Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán together negotiated temporary permission for migrants – many claiming to be refugees fleeing Syria’s civil war – to travel across borders to Germany and Austria. The temporary decision was said to be taken for humanitarian reasons, requiring Hungary to allow the migrants to leave.
Germany expects to see record immigration this year, with an estimated 800,000 migrants and refugees it will receive by far the most in the European Union, reports EurActiv. In August over 100,000 asylum seekers were registered. About 18,000 people arrived in Germany over the weekend alone, according to the BBC.
Merkel says Germany could face costs of €10bn (£7.3bn) next year because of the “breathtaking” flow of migrants which will “occupy and change” the country in the coming years. With numbers being so substantial it is unlikely that any German states (the Bundesländer) will be unaffected.
The Interior Minister of one such state, Bavaria’s Joachim Herrmann, accused Merkel of driving on without first clearing it with the Bundesländer governments which will have to deal with the consequences of her move. Herrmann is a member of the Christian Social Union (CSU), which is the Bavarian region’s more conservative sister party to Merkel’s national Christian Democrats (CDU).
Other CSU leaders, including Minister-President Horst Seehofer (Bavaria’s prime minister), together agreed that Merkel’s green light to the migrants stranded in Hungary had been the wrong signal to give. Seehofer said Germany cannot accept nearly all refugees who are coming to Europe, adding:
“There is no society that could cope with something like this. The federal government needs a plan here.”
“We had to give a strong signal of humanity to show that Europe’s values are valid also in difficult times. Hungary’s handling of the crisis is unbearable.”
Meanwhile, the flow of migrants shows no sign of slowing down, with large numbers of people reported to be streaming into Hungary across its southern border with Serbia.