‘Without Russia we can’t solve conflicts of our time’ – Bavarian leader

Bavarian Prime Minister and head of the Christian Social Union (CSU) Horst Seehofer © Michaela Rehle
It is impossible to solve modern conflicts without Russia, Merkel’s coalition partner and Bavarian leader Horst Seehofer said at a party congress. He went on to criticize the chancellor for her asylum policy.

“That’s true, without or against Russia we cannot solve conflicts of our time,” the Bavarian prime minister and leader of the Christian Social Union in Bavaria (CSU) said at the party congress in Munich, where he was re-elected as CSU head on Saturday.

Despite Western sanctions, Seehofer wants to develop cooperation with Russia, which he will visit in 2016 to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin. However, he stressed this doesn’t contradict Germany’s friendly ties with the US.

“We have been defending this position for a long time. By no means does this question our partnership and friendship with the US. But ladies and gentlemen, politically we have to face the fact that without Russia we cannot solve many things. We won't be able to solve them.”

Seehofer criticized Merkels’ refugee policy, demanding a limit on the influx of asylum seekers. “No one can be forced to shoulder more than they can carry,” the CSU leader said, adding that more than 500,000 migrants and refuges have arrived in Bavaria since September.

He also called for “a culture of reason, not a culture of welcome,” insisting that it is necessary to stop encouraging migrants and refugees from seeking asylum in Germany.

Seehofer was re-elected with 87.2 percent votes as the CSU chairman a day after his open debates against Angela Merkel where he advanced the same demands.

“We want control and order, but we also want a limit in the national interest,” he told the gathering as Merkel stood behind him on the stage.

“I can only tell you that we will be talking about this again, and I hope that we will come to an understanding,” he added.

Several minutes earlier, Angela Merkel said in her address to the CSU, which is her Christian Democratic Union’s (CDU) sister party, Germany can and will shelter people in need.

“Isolation and inaction are no solution in the 21st century,” the chancellor said.

She also called to combat the roots of the crisis and to fight the Islamic State terror group (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL), to secure the EU’s external borders and to thwart human traffickers.

“With this approach to reducing migrant numbers - as opposed to a unilaterally-set national ceiling - we will manage to act in everyone's interest,” she concluded.

The Bavarian leader has been opposing the chancellor’s asylum policy since the beginning of the refugee crisis. His region, bordering Austria, is the gateway for the asylum seekers. In October, he threatened to file a constitutional complaint against the federal government if it fails to take appropriate measures to limit the influx of refugees.

After the Paris attacks, Bavarian Finance Minister Markus Soeder (CSU) slammed the federal government’s policy urging to end the influx of refugees.

“The days of uncontrolled immigration and illegal entry can't continue just like that. Paris changes everything,” Soeder said in interview for the Welt am Sonntag newspaper last week.