The German government says it has stepped up border controls to stem a possible influx of Kurdish refugees from Italy and Greece. The German interior minister, Manfred Kanther, has urged Italy, Turkey and Greece to do the same, saying that Bonn would not tolerate what he called a criminal wave of migration into the country. He also called on Turkey and Iraq to solve the Kurdish problem. The move comes after more than a thousand mainly Kurdish asylum seekers from Turkey and Iraq arrived in Italy last week. Chancellor Kohl has spoken to the Italian and French Prime Ministers and the Austrian Chancellor in an attempt to find a solution, as Caroline Wyatt reports from Bonn:
Germany has tightened controls on both its southern and western borders, deploying several hundred extra border police, fearing that hundreds of Kurdish refugees will try to seek asylum. The Interior Minister, Manfred Kanther, said Germany was doing all it could to avert a potential crisis, and that it expected its partners to do the same.
He had harsh words for Italy and Greece, terming them irresponsible for granting the refugees transit. Mr Kanther called on both countries to tighten checks on their borders.
Some German MPs have called for passport controls between Germany and its European Union neighbours to be reintroduced, in defiance of the Schengen Agreement, a demand the government has so far rejected. Germany is already home to around half a million Kurds, most of them from Turkey and Iraq.
Those applying for political asylum are entitled to relatively generous social security payments while their claim is processed, a procedure which can take up to six years. Though many Kurds have gained political asylum in Germany, officials in Germany believe this latest wave of refugees is motivated more by economic factors than fear of persecution.
Last year, some 14,000 Kurds sought asylum in Germany, and politicians argue that the country can't cope with any more. Germany is hoping that the forthcoming meeting of European Union officials can coordinate action to prevent any further influx of Kurdish refugees.