Tag Archives: coalition

Merkel seeks EU migrant talks as German coalition crisis looms: paper

Merkel seeks EU migrant talks as German coalition crisis looms: paperGerman Chancellor Angela Merkel, struggling to avert a crisis within her coalition on migrant policy, is trying to set up a meeting of some EU states to discuss the issue before a leaders summit on June 28-29, a German newspaper reported on Sunday. Citing government sources from representatives of several EU states, top-selling Bild reported on its website that Merkel wanted to discuss possible solutions with Greece, Italy and Austria. It is also unclear exactly when this special summit would take place,” a member of the Italian government told Bild.



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Angela Merkel facing battle to save her coalition as immigration row splits Europe 

Angela Merkel facing battle to save her coalition as immigration row splits Europe Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, is to hold last-ditch talks to save her coalition government this weekend amid a major European rift over migrant policy. The German chancellor is facing open rebellion from her interior minister, Horst Seehofer, over his plans to turn away migrants at the German border. Mrs Merkel has blocked the measure but Mr Seehofer is threatening to impose it unilaterally if he doesn’t win agreement by Monday – essentially daring the chancellor to sack him. As leader of her Bavarian sister party, the Christian Social Union (CSU), Mr Seehofer could pull it out of Mrs Merkel’s coalition if he is fired, depriving her of a majority in parliament.  With both sides refusing to back down, German political commentators on Friday warned that the stand-off could potentially bring down the government, and even mean the end of Mrs Merkel’s term as chancellor.  On Friday, French president Emmanuel Macron came out in support of Mrs Merkel. "Countries are committed to the paths taken by their heads of state or government," the French president said, speaking at a press conference in Paris alongside Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte.  Mr Macron also spoke out against the proposed hardline "axis" on migration formed this week by the interior ministers of Italy, Germany and Austria. France and Italy rowed this week over the fate of a ship carrying more than 600 migrants that was turned away from Italian ports Credit: Reuters “I don't trust these catchphrases which did not bring us luck in the course of history," he said. But the French president was at also pains to put on a united front with the leader of Italy's new populist government, after a week in which he had clashed over their hardline on immigration Mr Macron and Mr Conte called for the European Union to set up asylum processing centres in African nations which have seen an exodus towards Europe in recent years.  The Aquarius, the ship carrying more then 600 migrants that sparked the row between the two after Italy refused it permission to dock, is now on its way to the Spanish port of Valencia. In Germany, Wolfgang Schäuble, the speaker of parliament and Mrs Merkel’s former finance minister, is to mediate at talks this weekend in an attempt to find a compromise. “The end of Merkel’s chancellorship has never been so close,” Süddeutsche Zeitung newspaper said in an editorial. Mrs Merkel’s 2015 decision to throw open Germany’s borders to migrants has suddenly and dramatically come back to haunt her.  At the heart of the dispute are Mr Seehofer’s plans to turn away migrants who have already registered in another European Union country at Germany’s borders. Under the EU’s Dublin rules, Germany can return migrants to the first EU member state they enter, but only after they apply for asylum in Germany, a time-consuming and expensive process. Mrs Merkel has so far blocked the proposals, arguing it could fatally undermine her efforts to agree a new EU-wide migrant policy at the next European summit in two weeks. German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer has declared an "axis of the willing" with his hardline counterparts in Italy and Austria  Credit: Getty But her opponents say she is more concerned at being seen to close the borders now after keeping them open during the influx of 2015. Mr Seehofer says Germany needs a solution to the migrant issue now and cannot wait.  But his critics say he is more concerned with grandstanding ahead of Bavarian elections in October, and fending off a challenge from the nationalist Alternative for Germany party (AfD), which has campaigned on an anti-migrant platform. The issue is complicated by the German political system. Individual ministers have considerable autonomy in their own departments, which means Mrs Merkel can only block Mr Seehofer from introducing the plans by sacking him. That has left the two sides facing off in a dangerous game of brinkmanship in which both have plenty to lose.  In a development that could prove decisive, Mrs Merkel reportedly won the backing of her party’s MPs at a meeting behind closed doors on Thursday. Mrs Merkel has also won the backing of her main coalition partner, the Social Democrats (SPD), who have denounced Mr Seehofer’s plan. Carsten Schneider, the SPD chief whip, warned that the proposals to turn away migrants at the border could lead to the “end of the European Union”, while Anke Rehlinger, another SPD politician, said it would mean the return of heavily armed border troops and “the end of free Europe as we know it”. But the CSU has rallied as strongly behind Mr Seehofer. “We don’t want to risk losing credibility,” Markus Söder, the regional prime  minister of Bavaria and Mr Seehofer’s chief rival within the party said. And sources within the party told the German press on Friday they were ready to go with the “nuclear option” if Mrs Merkel doesn’t back down.



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Brief panic in Germany as satire site claims Merkel coalition demise

Brief panic in Germany as satire site claims Merkel coalition demiseGermany lurched into a brief panic Friday as several media outlets fell for a satirical tweet that claimed Chancellor Angela Merkel’s coalition had collapsed in a bitter row over immigration. The fake news that rebellious Interior Minister Horst Seehofer would end his Bavarian CSU party’s seven-decade partnership with Merkel’s CDU was described as a “bombshell” by the apparently verified Twitter account. Merkel’s spokesman Steffen Seibert, receiving live updates during a press conference, was able to quickly shoot down the claim — but not before it had been cited as breaking news on the website of top-selling Bild tabloid and other media.



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Syria bomb kills 2 coalition troops from US and UK

Syria bomb kills 2 coalition troops from US and UKKOBANI, Syria (AP) — A roadside bomb in northern Syria killed two coalition personnel, an American and a Briton, and wounded five others in a rare attack since the U.S.-led coalition sent troops into the war-torn country, the U.S. and British militaries and a U.S. defense official said Friday.



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Coalition destroys Russian-made tank in Syria

Coalition destroys Russian-made tank in SyriaA US-led coalition drone has destroyed a Russian-designed tank in eastern Syria close to the scene of last week’s attack on pro-regime forces that left more than 100 Damascus loyalists dead, officials said Tuesday. The strike on the T-72 tank occurred Saturday near Al Tabiyeh, in Deir Ezzor province, the Pentagon said in a statement. “We detected and saw a tank that took a shot at us,” Lieutenant General Jeffrey Harrigian, who heads up Air Force operations for the region, told Pentagon reporters.



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US-led strikes kill up to 150 IS fighters in Syria: coalition

US-led strikes kill up to 150 IS fighters in Syria: coalitionThe US-led coalition has killed as many as 150 Islamic State fighters in an operation in the middle Euphrates River Valley in Syria, officials said Tuesday. “The precision strikes were a culmination of extensive intelligence preparation to confirm an ISIS headquarters and command and control center in an exclusively ISIS-occupied location in the contested middle Euphrates River Valley,” the statement read. While IS has lost most of the terrain they once controlled in Syria, they still remain entrenched in pockets along the middle Euphrates River Valley.



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US-led coalition to build 30,000-strong border force in Syria

US-led coalition to build 30,000-strong border force in SyriaThe US-led coalition fighting the Islamic State group said on Sunday it was working to create a 30,000-strong border security force in northern Syria, drawing sharp condemnation from Turkey. With the offensive against IS winding down, the coalition and its allies in the Syrian Democratic Forces alliance were beginning to shift their focus to border security, coalition spokesman Colonel Ryan Dillon told AFP. “There is a goal of a final force of approximately 30,000,” about half of whom would be retrained SDF fighters, he said.



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Saudi-led coalition says Yemen rebels threat to ships in Red Sea

Saudi-led coalition says Yemen rebels threat to ships in Red SeaA Saudi-led coalition has warned Yemen’s rebels threaten ships in the Red Sea through their control of a key port, days after rebel warnings over a coalition blockade. “The port of Hodeida is a launching pad for terrorist operations threatening navigation in the Red Sea and the Bab al-Mandab Strait,” coalition spokesman Turki al-Maliki said late Wednesday. The Red Sea is a key shipping route for world trade that connects the Middle East to Europe via the Suez Canal.



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Less than 1,000 IS fighters remain in Iraq and Syria, coalition says

Less than 1,000 IS fighters remain in Iraq and Syria, coalition saysFewer than 1,000 Islamic State fighters remain in Iraq and Syria, the United States-led international coalition fighting the hardline Sunni militant group said on Wednesday, a third of the estimated figure only three weeks ago. Iraq and Syria have both declared victory over Islamic State in recent weeks, after a year that saw the two countries’ armies, a range of foreign allies and various local forces drive the fighters out of all the towns and villages that once made up their self-proclaimed caliphate. The United States has led an international coalition conducting air strikes against Islamic State since 2014 when the group swept across a third of Iraq.



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Austria's far-right to enter government after coalition deal

Austria's far-right to enter government after coalition dealAustrian conservatives led by Sebastian Kurz reached a coalition deal with the anti-immigration Freedom Party on Friday, paving the way for Austria to become the only western European country with a far-right party in government. The agreement, two months after a parliamentary election dominated by Europe's migration crisis, ends more than a decade in opposition for the Freedom Party (FPO), which last entered government in 2000 with the People's Party (OVP) that Kurz now leads. Kurz's party won the Oct. 15 election with a hard line on immigration that often overlapped with the Freedom Party's. The FPO came third with 26 percent of the vote. "We can inform you that there is a turquoise-blue agreement," Kurz said in a joint statement to reporters with FPO leader Heinz-Christian Strache, referring to their two parties by their colours. Strache and Kurz said the details of their deal would be made public on Saturday, after a meeting with President Alexander Van der Bellen and discussions with their parties' leadership structures. "We want to reduce the burden on taxpayers … and above all we want to ensure greater security in our country, including through the fight against illegal immigration," Kurz said, touching on core issues for both parties. Profile | Sebastian Kurz In 2015, when more than a million refugees and other migrants arrived in Europe, Austria took in more than 1 percent of its population in asylum seekers, one of the highest rates in the EU. Many voters felt their country was overrun, and both parties have pledged to prevent a repeat of that influx. Strache and Kurz have pledged to restrict new arrivals' access to many social services for their first five years in the country, and to provide recognised refugees with only a "light" version of regular benefits for five years. While other far right parties in Europe have gained ground this year, entering parliament in Germany and making France's presidential run-off, the Freedom Party is going further by entering government and securing key ministries. A person familiar with the talks said before Friday's announcement that the far-right party was poised to secure the Interior, Foreign and Defence Ministries. Unlike France's National Front, the FPO has backed away from calling for a referendum on leaving the European Union, but Kurz has still secured a guarantee that there will be no Brexit-style referendum in Austria, a person familiar with the talks said. Profile | Sebastian Kurz Kurz has sought to head off potential criticism by offering assurances that his government will be pro-European. He also plans to shift responsibility for some EU issues from the Foreign Ministry to his office, the person familiar with the talks said, giving him greater control over EU policy. When the FPO last entered government under the late Joerg Haider, who praised Hitler's employment policies, other EU countries imposed sanctions on Vienna in protest. There is unlikely to be a similar outcry this time, given the rise of anti-establishment parties across the continent. Kurz, who is just 31, campaigned on the promise of bringing change to Austrian politics despite heading a party that has constantly been in power in various coalitions for the past 30 years. Many of the policies he and Strache have announced, such as cutting taxes and spending, have been proposed with few details so far. "We ask for your understanding that we can only provide more detailed information tomorrow," Kurz said



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