German Chancellor Angela Merkel refused to place an upper limit on refugees that the country accepts, speaking in an annual interview broadcast on Sunday.
Distancing herself from the position of her conservative Bavarian sister party, the Christian Social Union (CSU), Merkel, who leads the Christian Democratic Union (CDU), said placing a limit on refugees was not the way forward.
“As far as an upper limit is concerned, my position is clear: I will not accept it,” she said, saying that numbers could be reduced by regulation and taking action to prevent the situations that cause people to flee one country for another.
That position places her in conflict with CSU leader Horst Seehofer who threatened not to enter into coalition without an annual upper limit for refugee numbers.
In the wide ranging interview, Merkel said she hoped to work with NATO to resolve a widening gulf between Turkey and Germany.
Turkey NATO base access
Last week, Turkey refused to give German lawmakers access to Bundeswehr troops serving on AWACS surveillance planes at the NATO base in Konya which had been scheduled for Monday. Turkey asked for a delay, citing the tense state of German-Turkish bilateral relations.
Merkel refused to link the issue of extradition of Turkish asylum seekers with access to Konya in talks with Ankara. She said the two issues were completely unrelated. The question of asylum and the right to visit German troops have “nothing, but nothing to do with each other,” Merkel said.
“Before we draw conclusions, we should first wait for talks and discuss these things with NATO’s help,” Merkel said.
“This whole issue is unfortunate, very unfortunate,” Merkel said on Sunday.
Germany has already moved troops away from Incirlik airbase to Jordan after Turkey refused access to German parliamentarians and focus has now shifted to a NATO air surveillance mission at Konya.
NATO’s Secretary General urged the Turkish and German foreign ministers on Friday to resolve their differences over visits to Turkish air bases, part of a wider row between the two allies.