June 4, 2018 / 12:42 PM / 2 months ago

UPDATE 1-Germany's FDP calls for parliamentary inquiry on migrant policy

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BERLIN, June 4 (Reuters) - Germany’s opposition Free Democrats called on Monday for a parliamentary inquiry into Chancellor Angela’s migrant policy and the country’s migration agency after one of its branches wrongly granted asylum to some newcomers.

The FDP move came after the anti-immigrant Alternative for Germany, which is generally shunned by mainstream parties, filed a motion on Thursday to create a parliamentary committee to look into migrant policy and the scandal over irregular asylum rulings.

The AfD had called for such a committee to be set up during last year’s election campaign, during which it benefited from disgruntlement over the arrival of more than 1.6 million migrants since mid-2014. The influx helped AfD secure its first seats in the national parliament.

Christian Lindner, leader of the pro-business FDP, told a news conference that the AfD motion lacked substance and aimed to increase conflict rather than clarify what happened. He said the FDP’s motion was aimed at “clear and complete clarification” and helping satisfy society.

Asked if he would speak to the AfD on the issue, Lindner said no. The FDP would rather work with other parties like the Greens on setting up the committee.

Merkel faces widespread criticism for her migrant policy, especially after an internal review of 4,568 asylum rulings from the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF) found that its Bremen branch had knowingly and regularly disregarded legal regulations and internal rules.

“We think it’s necessary to get to the bottom of what happened, including the political responsibility - right up to the chancellery,” Lindner said.

He said Merkel as well as the responsible interior minister and Economy Minister Peter Altmaier, who was previously responsible for coordinating the government’s response to the refugee crisis, should testify before such a committee.

Lindner added that it was necessary to clarify how and under what conditions the BAMF had worked.

The AfD and FDP would not have enough votes together to launch a parliamentary inquiry and the other parties are sceptical or reject the idea, but Lindner said he was prepared to talk to them about setting up a committee.

Konstantin von Notz, a lawmaker from the opposition Greens, said on Twitter that his party did not exclude supporting a parliamentary inquiry if questions about the BAMF’s actions were not quickly addressed.

AfD co-leader Alexander Gauland has said he hoped the conservative CSU ally of Merkel’s Christian Democrats would back the creation of an inquiry committee as its leader Horst Seehofer had shown he wanted to tackle the BAMF scandal.

Seehofer, a member of the Bavarian conservatives known as the CSU, said last month he would welcome a parliamentary investigation into the BAMF.

The Bundestag (lower house of parliament) is due to discuss the motion on Thursday. (Reporting by Thorsten Severin and Andrea Shalal Writing by Michelle Martin Editing by Mark Heinrich)

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