Tunisian President Kaïs Saïed warned that Europe can only stop the flow of migrants arriving on its shores by helping to improve conditions in the countries from which they are leaving.
Saïed told Euronews that an approach to migration that deals only with security, preventing people from reaching Europe, would not ultimately solve what is a global crisis.
On the sidelines of the meetings in Brussels, Euronews sat down with Saïed to discuss his country’s partnership with the EU to curb the flow of immigrants to Europe and other issues.
Euronews: There are several topical issues on the table to discuss with European officials and in particular the migration partnership.
What cooperation strategy does your country intend to adopt in terms of exchanging information on illegal departures from Tunisia to Europe?
Kaïs Saïed: “I have spoken about this issue on several occasions, about illegal or legal migration.
Many people talk about a solution to solve the problem based on security. But it is very clear that this option is not enough to stop the migratory wave.
If those illegal immigrants had fulfilled their ambition to live well and make their dreams come true, and had the same opportunities as European citizens in their countries, the issue of immigration would not arise. It is better to know the true reasons for immigration than to analyze the phenomena.
Many illegal immigrants arriving in Europe from Tunisia and North Africa are exploited by criminal organizations: they are forced to do illegal work, which violates their rights as refugees.
We must also talk about the legal migration of academics and other highly skilled workers. For example, last year alone, about five hundred doctors went to Europe. “
What about the resources Tunisia needs from the EU to fight human trafficking networks that are active in Tunisia?
“To fight against these networks in Tunisia, but also in Europe, you have to look at those who host them. Who receives them when they come to work in the fields or in factories, or even on the black market? Who exploits them and Who benefits from it? It is here in Europe.
These immigrants are forced to work illegally, so it is absolutely necessary to combat human trafficking networks also within Europe. There will be no security or peace here unless we eliminate the causes that led to this illegal migration. Some illegal immigrants were forced to do it because they had lost all hope, they had no dreams ”.
The EU and Tunisia established a privileged partnership in 2012. With this action plan, priority is given to socio-economic development. How, thanks to this partnership, will you create job opportunities in Tunisia to tackle youth unemployment?
“There are agreements with several European countries and with the EU on this issue of job creation for young people. I told them: ‘We should find a new mechanism to build justice in the world.’
Did the Europeans listen when he told you about the difficulties Tunisia was facing in obtaining enough Covid-19 vaccines to reduce the transmission of the virus?
“Yes, they listened to us. I am talking about operational solutions here. In Tunisia we tested different vaccination action plans, but they are still insufficient and ineffective.
In recent days, we have received alarming signals from different regions of Tunisia suffering from oxygen shortages and lack of medical supplies, but we managed to control the situation. These catastrophic situations can be dealt with with a global approach to assistance, not just within one country. “
Let us now turn to the fight against terrorism. Just after the 2011 Revolution, Tunisia saw active jihadist movements near the borders with Libya and Algeria. Where is Tunisia now in its fight against jihadist groups?
“Tunisia is not a target country for terrorism on a daily basis, ours is a safe country. We protect our society by establishing a platform of cultural values aimed at protecting citizens from engaging in terrorism, which mainly threatens people who are victims. of a certain intellectual precariousness “.
This year, we witnessed the establishment of officials and diplomatic relations of some Arab countries with Israel. How does Tunisia see this step?
“We respect each country in its freedom to make decisions, we do not want to interfere in the decisions of other states at all. They are free, but we are also free to make our own decisions.”
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism