By Stefan J. Bos
Germany's Interior Ministry says that, under an agreement taking effect Saturday, migrants picked up at the German border, who previously registered in Spain, will be returned there within 48 hours.
A spokeswoman claimed Wednesday that Spain didn't ask for anything in return. She added that talks with Greece and Italy, which have been more significant sources of migration to Germany, are ongoing.
The move is part of a deal to defuse a domestic political dispute over migration. In June, Interior Minister Horst Seehofer threatened to turn back previously registered migrants unilaterally at the German-Austrian border.
But Chancellor Angela Merkel insisted Germany must first reach agreements with other countries.
The political turmoil comes at a time when the Interior minister's party CSU, which rules in the German state of Bavaria is under pressure to present a hard-line stance on refugees ahead of a state election in October.
Bavarian authorities are reportedly planning to establish a deportation center for refugees at Munich’s Airport, located in a hangar once used by bankrupt Air-Berlin.
But Interior Ministry spokeswoman Eleonore Petermann tried to play down these reports. “Fundamentally, I can say on behalf of all counties and in general that ‘detention and deportation centers’ is not a term that should be seriously considered to be used by anyone,” Petermann said.
Yet the distinctly stricter stance on migration also comes ahead of talks between German Chancellor Merkel and Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The government confirmed Wednesday that he will come to Berlin Sept 28 and 29 after a difficult period in German-Turkish relations.
Migration is expected to be among the topics being discussed as well as Turkey's detention of German citizens for what Berlin considers political reasons in the aftermath of the failed 2016 coup attempt in Turkey. The Foreign Ministry says at least seven Germans are currently in detention on controversial charges.