Morocco Rejects Setting Up Migrant Centers, Wants Role in EU Decisions
The EU has been trying to strike more migration deals such as the one it has with Turkey.
Morocco’s Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita has rejected the idea of establishing migrant centers in the EU’s neighborhood proposed by the Union while calling for allowing his country to be part of EU decisions on migration.
The EU wants to reach migration deals with countries in the Middle East and North Africa – such as Morocco, Tunisia, Libya, and Egypt, not unlike the deal it has in place with Turkey.
It has also proposed building “reception centers” for migrants in those countries as a way of sifting through asylum seekers and stemming their influx into Europe.
This is not the first some of the countries in question has refused to host such facilities although Morocco and Algeria seem to have accepted other measures for stopping migration to Europe, including through the forceful removal of migrants from border areas.
“Morocco is generally opposed to all kinds of centers. That is part of our migration policy and a national sovereign position … [it is] too easy to say that this is a Moroccan issue,” Bourita told German daily Die Welt, as cited by DW.
“Migration comprises 3% of the world’s population, 80% of which is legal … So we are only talking about 20% of these 3%,” he argued.
“Are we real partners or just a neighbor you’re afraid of?… The EU can’t ask Morocco to help with migration and the fight against terrorism and treat the country like an object,” the Moroccan Foreign Minister declared.
Under the 2016 EU – Turkey migration deal, Ankara agreed to prevent migrants from crossing to Greece and take some migrants back, in exchange for several billion euros in financial aid to assist with some 3.5 million refugees.
In addition to Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria, Egypt, Niger, and even Albania have turned down EU overtures for hosting migrant centers.
The issue is expected to see further development with a proposed EU – Arab summit in February 2019 to discuss migration as well as trade and economic development.
“Ultimately, we’ll need agreements and accords that are structured like the agreement between the European Union and Turkey,” German Chancellor Angela Merkel said in September, recognizing that the situation of every country would require a different solution.