German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Friday said an upcoming meeting of European leaders in Brussels would be a “first exchange” toward finding solutions and agreements to problems connected with migration.
Speaking at a news conference in the Lebanese capital Beirut, she said the emergency gathering would be a “consultative and working meeting at which there will be no closing declaration.”
Merkel is visiting the Middle East amid a serious domestic row over migration that is straining her ruling coalition.
Bavaria’s Christian Social Union party demands that some migrants should be turned back at Germany’s borders, and has given her two weeks to reach an agreement with European partners. German Minister of the Interior Horst Seehofer, the CSU’s leader, has said he would go ahead unilaterally with his plans if she does not — potentially threatening the governing coalition.
Merkel has rejected the idea of taking unilateral action.
The meeting on Sunday among leaders from a group of EU countries led by Germany and France is intended to thrash out possible solutions. It comes ahead of a full summit of the 28-nation EU on Thursday and Friday next week.
“What it’s about on Sunday is talking with particularly affected nations about all problems connected with migration — primary migration as well as secondary migration — and, following on from Sunday, seeing whether we can reach bi, tri or even multinational agreements to better solve certain problems,” Merkel said.
“So Sunday is a first exchange with interested member states — it was open to all member states, but of course not every country is affected in the same way — no more and no less than a working and consultative meeting,” she said.
Asked whether she expects her governing coalition to stay together, Merkel said: “I am working so that the coalition can fulfill the tasks it set itself in the coalition agreement, and we have plenty to do; we have achieved some things already.”
Earlier on Friday, Merkel tossed a ball with students and passed out jerseys from Germany’s national soccer team, competing in the FIFA World Cup, during a visit to a public school in the Lebanese capital, where many of the students are Syrian refugees.
“We try to help you get an education,” she said to one student in English.
There are over a million Syrian refugees living in Lebanon, representing nearly a quarter of the population. This makes Lebanon the largest host country in the region, putting a huge strain on the economy.
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