Tunisian President Kaïs Saied rejects European funds for migrants, which he considers “Charity”.
The Tunisian President, Kaïs Saied, raised a first hitch in the contract agreed in July between his country and the European Union (EU) on the sensitive issue of migrants. The Head of State announced on Monday evening, 2 October, that his country will not accept the “derisory” amount of funds allocated by Brussels, which violates the agreement between the two parties.
The European Commission announced on September 22 that it would begin allocating ” quickly ” the funds allocated under the agreement with Tunisia in order to reduce the number of migrants arriving from this country. The Commission specified that roughly 42 million euros of the 105 million euros in aid provided by this agreement to combat irregular immigration would be “allocated quickly.” In addition to the 24.7 million euros already budgeted for current programs.
“Tunisia, which accepts cooperation, does not accept anything resembling charity or favoritism, because our country and our people do not want sympathy and do not accept it when it lacks respect,” reads a statement from the Tunisian presidency. “Consequently, Tunisia rejects what the EU has announced in recent days,” said Mr. Saied as he received his Foreign Minister, Nabil Ammar.
He explained that this refusal was not “due to the minuscule amount (…) but because this proposal contradicts it” of the agreement signed in Tunis and “of the spirit that prevailed at the Rome conference in July.”
Additional assistance of €150 million
Tunisia, along with Libya, is the primary departure point for tens of thousands of migrants traversing the central Mediterranean and arriving in Italy.
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According to the European Commission, the aid must be used in part for the rehabilitation of boats used by the Tunisian coast guard and for cooperation with international organizations both for the “protection of migrants” and for operations to return these exiles from Tunisia to their countries of origin.
This memorandum of understanding between Tunisia and the EU also provides for 150 million euros in direct budgetary aid in 2023, despite the country’s severe economic difficulties. Mr. Saied concluded by stating that his nation “does everything possible to dismantle criminal networks involved in human trafficking.”
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