Tunisia’s Stand: Rejecting EU Border Guard Role

Two days after the visit to Tunis of a European trio composed of Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission, Giorgia Meloni, President of the Italian Council and Mark Rutte, Dutch Prime Minister, the Tunisians have made it known that they will not be the coastguards of the European Union. The delegation had proposed an agreement which included equipping and funding the country more in order to counter illegal departures from its shores.

With our correspondent in Tunis, Amira Souilem

The two parties have a slightly different reading of the diplomatic visit of Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission, Giorgia Meloni, President of the Italian Council and Mark Rutte, Dutch Prime Minister to Tunisia last weekend.

On the European side, it is an “excellent agreement on migration”. For 900 million euros in the long term, the Europeans expected Tunisia to strengthen its fight against illegal immigration.

The EU had undertaken to provide “this year to Tunisia 100 million euros (almost three times more than the annual amounts allocated so far) for the control of its borders, the search and rescue” of migrants, said Ursula von der Leyen.

But, on the Tunisian side, the story is quite different. Through the voice of an adviser to President Kaïs Saïed, Walid Hajjem, Tunisia made it clear that it did not want to be “the border guard” of Europe.

Departures from Tunisia on the rise

Remarks which come as the Tunisian media are closely following the adoption of the Asylum and Immigration Pact adopted by the Ministers of the Interior of the Twenty-Seven and which paves the way for the return of illegal migrants expelled from Europe to countries – so-called safe – of which Tunisia is a part.

Walid Hajjem clarified that each leader was free of his words and his interpretations, but that with regard to Kaïs Saïed, things were very clear, there was no question of playing, he insists, the role of border guard Europeans.

Parts of Tunisia are within 150 km of the Italian island of Lampedusa and attempts at clandestine migration, by nationals from sub-Saharan Africa and many Tunisians, are regularly recorded.

During the first quarter of this year, the Tunisian coastguard reports having stopped five times more boats leaving for Europe than during the same period last year.

This article is originally published on infomigrants.net

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