Berlin: German Chancellor Angela Merkel will hold emergency talks with the leaders of her two coalition partners over the weekend in a bid to resolve a dispute over tackling the refugee crisis, which is threatening to tear apart her two-year old government, as thousands of asylum seekers continued to stream into this country.
Merkel will begin the two-day discussions this evening in Berlin by meeting her Bavarian ally Horst Seehofer, who earlier this week gave her an ultimatum to stop the massive influx of refugees into his state from neighbouring Austria by Sunday.
The state premier of Bavaria and chairman of Christian Social Union (CSU), a sister party of Merkel's Christian Democratic Union (CDU), had threatened to take "appropriate measures" if his demands were not met.
Bavaria has been Germany's front-line state in the current refugee crisis and over 300,000 asylum-seekers have crossed into the state through Austria since Germany opened its border for Syrian refugees in early September, according to the estimates of the Austrian authorities.
The refugees, who are mostly from Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq and Eritrea, have been travelling through Greece, Macedonia, Serbia, Croatia, Slovenia and Austria to reach Germany, which is their preferred destination.
In interviews ahead of the meeting, some senior CSU leaders have hinted at the possibility of the party pulling out its three ministers from Merkel's Cabinet if no agreement is reached at the weekend to curb the flow of refugees.
Seehofer has been one of the most vociferous critics of Merkel's generous policy towards the refugees and he has been demanding her to put a limit on their number Germany would take.
Seehofer also wants the federal government to press ahead with plans to set up "transit zones" on the German side of the border with Austria in order to keep the refugees there temporarily instead of allowing them to travel to other parts of the country.
Such camps are intended to screen the refugees within two days of their arrival there and to deport immediately those who fail to meet the requirements for an asylum in Germany.
However, the transit zone plan was already rejected by Sigmar Gabriel, Vice Chancellor and Chairman of the Social Democratic Party (SPD), saying he was against the setting up of "internment centres" at the county's borders.
Gabriel in an interview yesterday criticised the dispute between the CDU and CSU as "unworthy and irresponsible" and said it restricted the functioning of the government.
Gabriel will join Merkel and Seehofer for a discussion on the refugee crisis tomorrow.
Even if the CSU pulls out its ministers from the cabinet and denies Merkel the support of its MPs in Parliament, her "grand coalition" can still carry on as the CDU and the SPD have sufficient majority in the Bundestag. The SPD fully backs Merkel's refugee policy.
However, the Chancellor is under mounting pressure from some influential members of the CDU as well as from the party's rank and file to change her course on refugees.
Meanwhile, Germany and Austria have agreed to improve the coordination of refugees to avert the chaotic situation existed in the Bavarian border town of Passau in the past few days after thousands of them were transported there in a number of buses from Austria.
The two sides agreed that from now on, refugees from Austria will be taken to only five border crossings and from there they will be sent to reception centres in Bavaria or in other parts of Germany.