“Any hasty initiative on accepting Guantánamo inmates is damaging,” he told the newsmagazine Focus on Saturday. “Steinmeier would have done better to consult with the federal interior minister and with the interior ministers of the states before making any public promises.” Schönbohm pointed out that, should any prisoners be brought to Germany, the responsibility for them would lie with the states.
Schönbohm emphasised that he was open to discussion on the issue, but that Germany’s security concerns should come first. “When the USA finds a solution to the problem of the camp in Guantánamo, and if they need German help, then we can discuss it,” he said.
The enthusiasm among state interior ministers for providing asylum to the US terrorist suspects is clearly limited. The interior minister of North Rhine-Westphalia, Ingo Wolf, attached conditions to accepting any prisoners. “The federal government must take into account security concerns and balance humanitarian aspects. And it must guarantee the absolute safety of our state,” he told the Westdeutsche Allgemeine Zeitung newspaper on Saturday.
Wolf said he welcomed the closure of Guantánamo Bay in principle, “for constitutional reasons.” But the fierce political debate that has erupted in Germany since the government announced its willingness to take in inmates looks likely to continue.