As a follower of the controversial issue of building shelters of foreign refugees in Tunisia, I was surprised as many Tunisians by what German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel said after a Monday meeting with his Austrian counterpart Sebastian Kurz, that a refugee-reception arrangement “was unrealistic, because of unstable conditions in countries like Libya and Tunisia”.
For his part, Sebastian Kurz referred that” reception centers should be set up outside the European Union’s borders”.
I was surprised because the truth was absent while selfishness was present.
We may understand such position as regards the crisis in neighboring Libya, which seized the attention of the international community by its bloodiest crisis, but we can not understand such a statement on the situation in Tunisia classified as a safe country.
We can describe this position as unfair, blindly biased to European interest, a fallacy for public opinion as well as an electoral maneuver.
We feel that such a statement does not respect state sovereignty nor the demands of the democratic transition which requires the help and understanding of friends, especially in tough times.
The main thing that German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel knew very well is the real position of Tunisian officials especially Prime Minister Youssef Chahed during his latest visit to Germany, who strongly rejected the delicate issue to house refugees in reception centers on the Tunisian soil.
European Officials among them the Germans- whom we respect- have the full right to choose the appropriate formulas to resolve the crisis and problems occurred on their territories, but without offending friendly peoples or exploiting their pain.
Austria’s foreign minister called Monday for setting up mass holding camps in North Africa for migrants, a plan dismissed by his German counterpart as unrealistic.
But Gabriel, on his first trip to Austria as foreign minister, was blunt in rejecting Kurz’s vision of creating mass refugee centers in countries like Libya or Sudan “sooner rather than later.”
Gabriel also dismissed expectations that Tunisia would be able to host mass concentrations of migrants, warning that could be “destabilizing” in a North Africa country that is struggling to nurture its fragile democracy.
Ben Rhouma Chedly