BERLIN (Reuters) – A conservative running to succeed Chancellor Angela Merkel as head of their party has raised an outcry by questioning Germany’s constitutional guarantee of asylum that was enshrined to atone for World War Two Nazi crimes.
Germany’s “Grundgesetz” (Basic Law) assures asylum to all “politically persecuted” – a simpler pledge in the past when it covered a handful of Soviet dissidents during the Cold War than now when millions seek sanctuary in Europe from war and poverty.
Merkel - Successor - Friedrich - Merz - Wednesday
This might have to change, would-be Merkel successor Friedrich Merz said on Wednesday evening on the campaign trail in Thuringia, an eastern state where hostility to immigrants helped propel the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) to second place in the 2017 national election.
“We must be prepared to discuss the constitutional right to asylum if we seriously want a European immigration and refugee policy,” he said to applause from local party delegates.
Merz - Germany - Guarantee - European - Union
Merz said that Germany’s constitutional guarantee was “unique” in the European Union, meaning Berlin could be obliged to take in refugees rejected under a common European asylum policy. The bloc is divided over how it should cope with an influx of migrants, many fleeing civil war in Syria.
Constitutional provisions granting asylum are indeed rare. But all other EU countries have equivalently strong legal commitments to guaranteeing asylum to the persecuted, including via international conventions that have constitutional force.
Remarks - Rebuke - Merkel - Decision - War
His remarks were also an implicit rebuke to Merkel, whose decision in 2015 to admit over a million Syrian war refugees scrambled European politics and helped generate a far-right surge across the continent.
Merz trails Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, dubbed “mini-Merkel” for her similarities in policy and style, in leadership polls of Christian Democratic (CDU) party members.
Winner - Position - EU - Country - Powerhouse
The winner will be in pole position to lead the EU’s largest country and economic powerhouse.
Kramp-Karrenbauer rejected Merz’s proposal, saying it risked undermining...
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