BERLIN • The German state of Bavaria is planning "emergency measures" to slow arrivals of asylum seekers, including sending some back to neighbouring Austria, State Premier Horst Seehofer said, directly challenging Chancellor Angela Merkel over the crisis.
Mr Seehofer said over 225,000 refugees have arrived in his southern state in less than five weeks and the authorities are stretched beyond the limit to house and care for them.
The Bavarian Cabinet was due to meet yesterday to agree on the measures, although legally, the state cannot send refugees back as this would be a matter for the federal government in Berlin, where Dr Merkel has refused to cap the number of migrant arrivals.
CONSEQUENCE OF DENYING ASYLUM
If refugees who wish to remain in Germany are sent back to Austria, then you have to expect riots ultimately.
MS JOHANNA MIKL-LEITNER, Austria's Interior Minister
Vienna has warned of the risk of violence if the government in Bavaria, the main entry point into Germany for asylum seekers moving north through the Balkans and Austria, went ahead with the plan.
"If refugees who wish to remain in Germany are sent back to Austria, then you have to expect riots ultimately," said Austrian Interior Minister Johanna Mikl-Leitner.
She was speaking after raising the issue with German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier and Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere at a European Union meeting in Luxembourg. Both "are naturally very worried", she said.
Although in the same conservative parliamentary bloc, Mr Seehofer is at loggerheads with Dr Merkel on handling the migrant crisis as he insists that limits on numbers allowed into Germany are needed. Dr Merkel has made clear that she will not introduce a refugee cap.
The refugee crisis is taking its toll on the popularity of Dr Merkel's conservative Christian Democrats and their Bavarian sister party, the Christian Social Union, which Mr Seehofer leads.