(Guardian) Germany must soon close borders to refugees, transport minister tells Merkel

(Guardian – click to see) Alexander Dobrindt says country can no longer show a ‘friendly face’ and must act unilaterally if fresh arrivals continue.

Media and demonstrators stand next to a bus carrying refugees from the Bavarian town of Landshut to Berlin
on Thursday.
Media and demonstrators stand next to a bus carrying refugees from the Bavarian town of Landshut to Berlin
on Thursday. A Bavarian politician sent the people on the seven-hour journey in protest against her open-door refugee policy. Photograph: Fabrizio Bensch/Reuters

Chancellor Angela Merkel’s transport minister has urged her to prepare to close Germany’s borders to keep out refugees, arguing that Berlin must act alone if it cannot reach a Europe-wide deal.

Alexander Dobrindt said Germany could no longer show the world a “friendly face” – a phrase used by Merkel as refugees began arriving in Germany six months ago – and that if the number of new arrivals did not drop soon, Germany should act alone.

“I urgently advise: we must prepare ourselves for not being able to avoid border closures,” Dobrindt, a member of the Bavarian Christian Social Union (CSU), told the Muenchner Merkur newspaper.

The CSU, the Bavarian sister party to Merkel’s conservative Christian Democrats (CDU), has ramped up pressure on the chancellor over her open-door refugee policythat saw 1.1 million migrants arrive in Germany in 2015.

The CSU’s leader, Horst Seehofer, told Der Spiegel magazine in a weekend interview he would send the federal government a written request within the next two weeks to restore “orderly conditions” at the nation’s borders.

Bavaria is the main entry point to Germany for refugees.

Dobrindt said: “I would advise us all to prepare a plan B” in an advance release of an interview to run in the Muenchner Merkur’s Tuesday edition.

In the Netherlands, clashes erupted late on Monday in a small town during protests against the planned opening of a centre for asylum seekers, Dutch media and officials said.

In a repeat of scenes seen in several Dutch towns and villages in the past few months amid growing tensions over the arrival of record numbers of migrants, police intervened to disperse about 1,000 people who rallied in Heesch.

It was not immediately clear from police how many people had been arrested and whether anyone was injured.

Merkel has vowed to “measurably reduce” arrivals in 2016, but has refused to introduce a cap, saying it would be impossible to enforce without closing German borders.

Instead, she has tried to convince other European countries to take in quotas of refugees, pushed for reception centres to be built on Europe’s external borders, and led an EU campaign to convince Turkey to keep refugees from entering the bloc. But progress has been slow.

Dobrindt rejected Merkel’s argument that closing borders would jeopardise the European project. “The sentence, the closure of the border would see Europe fail, is true in reverse. Not closing the border, just going on, would bring Europe to its knees,” he said.