'Paris changes everything': Bavarian allies pressure Merkel on refugees

Reuters News
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Posted: Nov 15, 2015 5:48 AM

BERLIN (Reuters) - Bavarian allies cranked up pressure on German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Sunday to reverse her "open-door" refugee policy, saying the deadly attacks in Paris underlined the need for tougher measures to control the influx of migrants.

The coordinated assault in the French capital, in which at least 129 people were killed, has fueled a debate over Merkel's welcoming approach to refugees and on how to get better intelligence about people entering the country.

The holder of a Syrian passport found near the body of one of the gunmen who died in Friday night's attacks passed through Greece in October, a Greek minister said, and another suspected attacker was thought to have entered Europe the same way.

"The days of uncontrolled immigration and illegal entry can't continue just like that. Paris changes everything," Bavarian Finance Minister Markus Soeder told Welt am Sonntag newspaper.

His comments came after Bavarian state premier Horst Seehofer, leader of Merkel's sister party, the Christian Social Union (CSU), had urged better protection of Germany's frontier and called for stricter controls at Europe's external borders.

"The CSU stands behind the chancellor, but it would be good if Angela Merkel acknowledged that the opening of the border for an unlimited period of time was a mistake," Soeder said.

The Foreign Ministry in Berlin meanwhile confirmed that one German citizen was among the victims in Paris.

Soeder said a government had a duty to care for its own people as a priority, adding Germany needed a migration strategy with an official cap to limit the numbers of new arrivals.

If Europe's external borders could not be protected, Germany had to secure its own frontier, he said. This could also include unconventional steps like closing border crossings, Soeder said.

Germany reimposed border controls on Sept. 13 and decided to extend them beyond an initial limit of two months foreseen by Schengen rules, using a clause that permits stretching checks to a maximum of six months.

(Reporting by Michael Nienaber; Editing by Ros Russell)