Published: Thu, June 14, 2018
Worldwide | By Isabel Fisher

Merkel: Trump's Twitter Withdrawal From G-7 Statement 'Sobering' And 'Depressing'

Merkel: Trump's Twitter Withdrawal From G-7 Statement 'Sobering' And 'Depressing'

The same day he met Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, who announced at a joint press conference that the interior ministers in Vienna, Rome and Berlin had formed an "axis of the willing" to combat illegal immigration. While it fits in with the idea that asylum seekers should not "shop" for the country that gives it the best welcome and benefits, Merkel has feared that copycat laws would follow across Europe, as one country after another would close its borders to avoid becoming the receptacle for all of the continent's undocumented migrants.

Earlier this week, Seehofer called Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini to offer support and invite him for migration talks.

Seehofer, a former leader of the Bavarian Christian Social Union (CSU) which is facing a hard regional election in October, wants to show he is toughening up the rules in his 63-point master plan.

"We must decide who comes to Europe, not the smugglers", said Kurz, who is due to meet with Seehofer on Wednesday.

The anti-immigration AfD said Seehofer must prevail.

She is reported to have told Seehofer and Bavaria's minister president, Markus Söder, she was prepared to compromise by striking bilateral agreements with the European Union countries most affected by new arrivals, including Italy and Greece, but it is understood they turned that idea down.

Although Trump and Kudlow have since claimed Trudeau "stabbed us in the back" and was the reason for the U-turn, it is Trump's actions that other G7 leaders appeared to find frustrating.

The arrival of more than a million asylum seekers since 2015, many fleeing war-torn Syria and Iraq, has deeply divided Germany and fuelled the rise of the far-right AfD in last year's general election at the expense of mainstream parties.

Merkel's open-door policy for Germany has already been gradually scaled back and Christian Democrat General-Secretary Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, widely seen as a possible successor to Merkel, said the party's leadership supported her position. The conflict that erupted over the plan jeopardized the coalition government, which has been functioning for only three months.

For decades the CSU - the Bavarian sister party of the CDU - has been in alliance with Mrs Merkel's conservatives.

Merkel's insistence on an EU-wide agreement has the backing for now of the third party in her coalition, the Social Democratic Party.

Merkel said that "taking it back by tweet was of course sobering and also a little depressing".

But demands from the populist and far-right leaning forces in Italy, Austria and elsewhere are complicating Merkel's push for European Union solidarity in dealing with immigration issues, an issue to be covered at a June 28-29 summit.

Despite the number of migrants effectively reaching the European Union through Albania is low, it has been surging in the last months.

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