‘We can't do it!’ Bavaria sends busload of refugees to Merkel
The head of a Bavarian district has sent a bus with 30 refugees aboard on a 550km trip to Angela Merkel’s Berlin office – fulfilling a threat made in October, when he said he would act if the number of refugees exceeded housing capacity in his area.
Peter Dreier, head of the Landshut district in Bavaria, reportedly had an angry phone conversation with Chancellor Angela Merkel to discuss the refugee issue back in October, Die Welt newspaper reports. “We can’t do it [taking in all the refugees]!” – he said, knowingly inverting Merkel’s famous “We can do it” slogan, which the chancellor made in the summer 2015 in reference to the high number of refugees Germany was taking.
“If Germany takes in a million refugees, that means my district will take in a share of 1,800. I will take them. But any more [refugees] I’ll send by bus to your office in Berlin,” Dreier warned.
On Thursday morning over 30 refugees boarded a bus in Dreier's local district of Landshut in the south of Germany, preparing to make a seven-hour trip to the capital Berlin. Dreier himself entered the bus to deliver his promise to Merkel in person.
But he admitted that he knew the chancellor would not be in to receive the bus of refugees: “That’s out of the question. She isn’t there,” he said, quoted by The Local.
It is reported that all the refugees knew what was happening, and that no one was against the trip.
Dreier complained that the federal authority in Berlin doesn’t know the realities on the ground, and has no perception of the extent of refugee crisis: “They say that not as many [refugees] are coming [and] now the problem is solved. But they don’t understand that there is a build-up because the refugees who arrived in the last few months are still there.”
Dreier also told journalists at the time of his phone call with Merkel in October that the chancellor told him, according to The Local: “If you send me buses then I’ll have to send them to back to Greece. But then the refugees will come back by themselves to you again.”
Southern Bavaria has taken the brunt of the refugee influx, as the majority of new arrivals come into Germany through the southern border with Austria, and therefore arrive directly in Bavaria.
The Bavarian regional government is not considered to be an ally of Merkel on the refugee issue, with Bavaria’s Prime Minister Horst Seehofer threatening to file a constitutional complaint against the federal government unless it implements efficient measures to curb the influx of refugees.