Tunisia’s President Rules Out Hosting EU Migrant Reception Centers
Tunisia’s leader argued his country was far safer than others in the region, and that terrirosim was brought in from the outside.
Tunisian President Beji Caid Essebsi has become the latest senior North African official to dismiss the possibility of hosting migrant reception centers for asylum seekers flocking to the EU.
Earlier this month, the idea of establishing migrant centers in the EU’s neighborhood proposed by the Union was rejected by Morocco’s Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita
The EU has been seeking 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, and building “migrant reception centers” there is supposed to stem their influx into Europe.
“[Tunisia hosting migrant centers] is out of the question,” its President President Beji Caid Essebsi told the DW in an interview while visiting Berlin for an African business summit organized by German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
“Tunisia has much more experience with refugees than many European countries. After the Libyan revolution, more than 1.3 million refugees from various countries streamed into Tunisia. Fortunately, most of them returned to their home countries with our help. Europe has never experienced anything comparable,” Essebsi said.
“We, unlike Europe, do not have the capacities to open reception centers. Every country needs to pull its own weight on this issue,” he argued.
He added that Tunisia would take in any Tunisians abroad involved of wrongdoing, “but not citizens of other countries”.
Essebsi, who reminded he was the first democratically elected of Tunisia, also insisted that his country is safe, “much safer than many other countries. Regarding refugees and the problem that they pose for Europe and other regions.”
In his words, terrorism is not native to Tunisia, and is brought in from the outside. His comments came after on Monday, nine people were injured in the country’s capital Tunis when a woman blew herself up.
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 Tunisia, Morocco, Algeria, Egypt, Niger, and even Albania havea all turned down EU overtures for hosting migrant centers.
(Banner image: Flickr)