Thomas de Maiziere. Photo: Bernd von Jutrczenka/DPA
German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere warned Saturday that Berlin's generous offer of benefits for asylum seekers was a siren call for migrants.
"The benefits for refugees in Germany are quite high compared to other EU countries. This is part of the pull effect towards Germany," de Maiziere, a close ally of Chancellor Angela Merkel, said in an interview with the Rheinische Post regional daily.
Under Merkel's impetus, Germany welcomed more than a million asylum seekers in 2015 and 2016, all of them ushered in by Maiziere's interior ministry.
His comments on Saturday, two weeks ahead of legislative elections, were roundly criticised by the far-left Die Linke party and the German Greens.
Aid for refugees "cannot be reduced below the subsistence minimum," argued Katrin Goering-Eckardt, head of the Greens parliamentary group.
Merkel's Christian Democrats "are ready to do anything" for votes, she added.
Die Linke deputy Jan Korte said that Maiziere was seeking to "disfigure the right to asylum".
De Maiziere on Saturday stressed the need to harmonise asylum procedures for European nations, an issue already broached at EU-level.
The European Union needs "a truly homogenous asylum system," he said.
An asylum seeker arriving in Germany has the right to housing and up to €390 euros per month to cover food, clothing and other expenses.
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