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BERLIN - Germany's Interior Minister Horst Seehofer said on Sunday a row between his Bavarians and Chancellor Angela Merkel is serious but can be overcome, a signal that he may compromise to avoid a full-blown German coalition crisis.
Bavaria's Christian Social Union (CSU) decides on Monday whether to start implementing a plan drawn up by Seehofer to reject migrants who have already registered in other EU states.
Merkel opposes such a unilateralist move as it would reverse her 2015 open-door policy and undermine her authority. The split could threaten her three-month-old coalition government and also deal a blow to the EU's Schengen open-border system at a time when divisions in the bloc are deep.
"The cohesion of Europe is at stake as well as the cohesion of Germany. The situation is serious but it can be overcome," Seehofer wrote in a guest column for the Frankfurter Allgemeine paper which was published on Sunday.
He reiterated that he wanted the right to turn people away from Germany but also stressed he wanted a European solution.
"It is crucial that the EU summit at the end of June reaches agreements that recognize Germany's burden in migrant policy," he said. The EU, he added, had to guarantee the protection of the EU's external borders, a fair distribution of people allowed to stay and the quick return of people without that right.
Earlier, Bild newspaper, citing unnamed sources from the CSU leadership, reported that the CSU would give Merkel two weeks, until an EU summit on June 28-29, to deliver a European solution on migrant policy before defying her by implementing his plan.
If no satisfactory EU deal is reached, German police would start sending back migrants registered in other EU states, it said, although CSU General-Secretary Markus Blume said the report was disinformation and: "There are no agreements in any direction."
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