Chahed in Berlin: Tunisia is not a transit country for refugees

The repatriation of 1500 irregular Tunisian emigrants took centre stage at a meeting between Prime Minister Youssef Chahed and German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Tuesday in Berlin.

Chahed also discussed with the German Chancellor the Tunisia-Libya neighborhood and prospects for the Tunisian-German economic co-operation.

The Prime Minister is making an official visit to Germany from February 14 to 15.

Speaking at a press conference following her meeting with Chahed, Angela Merkel said the two sides agreed to promote a voluntary return of Tunisians targeted by repatriation, while offering them necessary support in Tunisia.

“We discussed how the repatriation of people can be improved … how to make voluntary repatriation more attractive, by offering education, help to get started,” she said, adding that about 1,500 of the 30,000 Tunisians in Germany were not allowed to stay.”

While recalling the March 2016 agreement on migration, Merkel stressed the need to sign a new consensual agreement to frame this phenomenon in the light of the situation in Libya.

She added that the terrorist attack in Berlin still weighs on Germany like Tunisia which has experienced similar acts, calling for stepping up the exchange of security data between the two countries, to eradicate terrorism.

Merkel said her next visit to Tunisia will help examine the various political, economic and security issues and consolidate bilateral co-operation in the fields of higher education and private investment, which will be fostered by the promulgation of “a new investment code in Tunisia.

For his part, the Prime Minister said Tunisia is not a transit land for refugees and will not offer reception centres for this category, specifying that the issue of migration obeys conventions with countries like Germany, France and Italy where a large Tunisian community resides.

Youssef Chahed also spoke of a knowledge hub project and a Tunisian-German vocational training center which, he said, will allow drawing on the German experience and expertise in the fields of higher education and training.

The two officials visited the site of the terrorist attack in Berlin and laid a wreath in memory of the victims.


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