Markus Söder, state premier of Bavaria
Markus Söder, state premier of Bavaria

Right-wing members of the conservative CDU/CSU alliance have questioned Germany's constitutional right to asylum and its commitment to an international migration treaty. Bavaria's state premier does not want any changes.

Bavarian Premier Markus Söder rebuked fellow members of the conservative CDU/CSU alliance on Sunday by defending Germany's constitutional right to asylum and a United Nations-backed migration accord.

"The individual constitutional right to asylum is for me inviolable," Söder told the Die Welt am Sonntag newspaper.

Friedrich Merz, a candidate to replace German Chancellor Angela Merkel as CDU leader, sparked an outcry earlier this week after he called for a debate on whether Germany should keep the constitutional provision. He eventually retracted the statement.

Söder, a member of the CDU's Bavarian sister party, the CSU, said the debate about the individual right to asylum was too "theoretical." Migration policy was about taking "practical steps" that the government had already taken, he said.

Need for international cooperation

Söder also said that the UN migration pact made sense because global migration challenges could not be solved by one country alone.

"National measures always have to be conducted in tandem with international ones," he said. "Otherwise, they lead to nothing."

Right-wing CDU/CSU members voiced concern that the agreement could set legal principles that would make it harder for Germany to set its own immigration policy.

CDU Health Minister Jens Spahn, another hopeful to replace Merkel as CDU leader, said party members should vote on the pact at a party conference in early December.

The government's failure to communicate enough details about the pact was "unfortunate," Söder said, because it offered far-right populists ammunition for "conspiracy theories."

Other countries, including Austria and the Czech Republic, have said they will withdraw from the treaty.

The Bavarian premier was nevertheless pleased with the European Union's efforts to control inward migration by strengthening its external border.

"Europe is fortunately far further along than it was just a few years ago," he said.

amp/tj (AFP, Reuters)

First published: November 25, 2018

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