Bavaria blasts Austria over migrants, demands Merkel act

27th October 2015, Comments 0 comments

Bavaria's state premier on Tuesday blasted Austria for waving through thousands of migrants to Germany without informing local authorities and called on Chancellor Angela Merkel to intervene.

"Austria's behaviour is hurting our neighbourly relations. We cannot and should not deal with each other this way," premier Horst Seehofer told the Passauer Neue Presse in an interview.

Bavaria, in southeastern Germany, borders Austria and has been the main gateway for hundreds of thousands of asylum seekers arriving in Germany in recent months.

Bavarian authorities, already struggling to cope with the record numbers, are accusing Vienna of failing to inform them when new arrivals are on their way.

They complain that the lack of coordination is leaving them scrambling at the last minute to find resources to welcome the newcomers.

Austrian police rejected the claims as "a joke", saying both sides are in constant contact over coordination on the asylum seeker influx.

"Usually we don't comment on political statements but the fact is that if Austria receives 11,000 people in Spielfeld on a daily basis, Bavaria cannot say that it will just process up to 50 people an hour at its border. That's a joke," said police spokesman David Furtner.

"Plus this doesn't meet German standards: the government said that all refugees would be welcome. There seems to be a problem of interpretation by German national police who counteract the directive with restrictions (in migrant numbers)," he added.

Merkel herself sought to calm nerves, saying that Germany has had "constant contact with Austria in recent weeks, likewise today, tomorrow and the day afternoon too."

Vienna sang the same tune, with Faymann's office speaking of the "close contact" with Merkel.

Austria and Germany are both members of Europe's borderless Schengen zone.

- 'Irresponsible behaviour' -

However Bavaria's police said that late on Monday around 2,000 refugees crossed on foot into the region, catching local authorities unaware.

Police spokesman Frank Koller said Austria had also informed them that nine buses carrying asylum seekers were on their way to Bavaria Tuesday, but from "unofficial sources, we learnt that there are in actual fact 22 buses on the way".

"The actual figures unfortunately sharply differ from Austria's reports," he said.

Bavaria's interior minister Joachim Herrmann also heaped criticism on Austrian authorities, accusing them of only seeking to push the refugees onto Germany as quickly as possible.

"That is irresponsible behaviour on the part of our Austrian colleagues," Herrmann told Bayerischer Rundfunk.

Seehofer said Merkel must have an urgent telephone conversation with Austria's Chancellor Werner Faymann.

The two leaders have in place a "policy of open borders," Seehofer said, adding: "The chancellor can and must end that."

Seehofer, who leads Merkel's conservative allies the CSU, has been among the most vocal politicians in calling into question the German leader's open-door policy for those fleeing war and persecution.

Urging an end to the "policy of waving them through", Seehofer warned: "This cannot be only done next year, but must be carried out immediately."

"We will see after All Saints' Day (Sunday) if Berlin is ready to take over Bavaria's request to control and limit immigration," he said.

"If I see no results, then we have to consider what other options we have," he said.

Germany is expecting to record up to a million new arrivals this year alone, many fleeing from war-torn Syria.

© 2015 AFP

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