Youssef Chahed, Tunisia’s Prime Minister addressing the Tunisian parliament on August 26 2016
Tunisia’s prime minister has condemned the claims made by Germany that his country has been blocking failed asylum seekers from returning there. Amongst those allegedly rejected was the key suspect in the Berlin Christmas market attack last year.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel will be meeting with Prime Minister Youssef Chahed to discuss how the repatriation of Tunisians can be speeded up and given priority following the urgency prompted by the Berlin attack.
Responsibility for the attack was claimed by Daesh, on behalf of whom Tunisian Anis Amri was said to be acting. Twelve people were killed when he drove a stolen truck through the market. He had his asylum application rejected more than a year earlier but was prevented from being deported because of delays caused by Tunisian bureaucracy.
Chahed rejected the German claims. “One thing that I must say very clearly,” he told German newspaper Bild, “the Tunisian authorities have not made any mistakes.” Anis Amri was no terrorist when he left Tunisia in 2011, insisted the prime minister. “There were no signs that he had been radicalised.”
He explained that the Tunisian authorities acted correctly with regards to identity documents. “Here too, we are always in close contact with Germany.”
The prime minister hailed his country’s cooperation with Germany but called on Berlin to provide “clear evidence that we are really dealing with Tunisians” as far as suspected terrorists are concerned. Chahed estimates that there are around 1,000 Tunisians awaiting possible deportation from Germany. “Illegal immigrants who use false identity documents make it difficult and delay the process,” he explained.
Merkel has been under pressure to reduce the numbers of asylum seekers in Germany following the country’s absorption of over million migrants and refugees since 2015. The majority of those had fled fighting in Syria and qualified for a temporary stay. Germany has also processed asylum applications from Tunisians, Algerians and Moroccans. It is anticipating an increase in the number of migrants crossing the Mediterranean to reach mainland Europe as spring approaches.
Merkel has said she will support a proposal for Tunisia to set up “holding facilities” for those refugees rescued from the Mediterranean. She also stressed that in her meeting with Chahed they will need “to discuss calmly, with mutual respect, what possibilities exist” as well as Germany’s security cooperation with Tunisia.
(Source / 14.02.2017)