Salvini in Tunis: Economic aid in exchange for tougher border controls, but deadlock on repatriations

Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini has travelled to Tunis to meet with local authorities and talk about immigration. Salvini called the visit “fruitful,” although Rome did not obtain the increase in repatriations it had hoped for.

Italian government officials were hoping to achieve an increase in the number of repatriated migrants – currently 80 per week – during a visit to Tunisia. Instead, Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini has so far only obtained Tunisia’s pledge to boost bilateral agreements with Italy. This includes a deal that Italy will provide economic aid and training in exchange for stronger efforts from Tunis to stop migration to Europe.

Salvini travelled to Tunis with the objective of decreasing arrivals by sea. He met with Tunesian President Beji Caid Essebsi and Interior Minister Hicham Fourati. The Italian minister called the meetings “fruitful,” although he said they did not lead to the result he had hoped for – an increase in repatriations.

Investments for Tunesia

“It’s a long road,” Salvini said at a press conference, adding that there was a pledge to monitor coasts more effectively, to reduce departures and to make expulsions faster and more effective. “We are working with authorities to bring back home any Tunisian citizen that is really Tunisian,” he said. Salvini promised to give Tunisia two cutters by October, with four additional boats over the coming months, along with radar systems. Rome also said it would help train police forces in Tunisia.

Italy pledged to boost investments to help employment in Tunesia in order to prevent young people from leaving Tunisia. Some 1,000 Italian entrepreneurs are currently present in Tunisia and employ a reported 60,000 workers directly and indirectly.

TunisianMonitorOnline (ANSA)


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