Thu. May 30th, 2024

In the fourth visit in a year, Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni arrived in Tunisia to discuss with President Kais Saied the fight against illegal immigration.

Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni arrived in Tunisia on Wednesday accompanied by Interior Minister Matteo Piantedosi.

Ahead of the visit, Italian sources stressed that “cooperation in the field of migration remains an essential aspect of the relationship between Italy and Tunisia.”

The visit comes two months before European elections, which are locked in heated debates over migration.

Rome stresses that “it remains essential that the Tunisian authorities continue their work to combat smuggling and human trafficking and to control illegal departure attempts” of migrants.

Tunisia, along with Libya, is the main departure point for thousands of migrants trying to cross the central Mediterranean towards the coast of Italy.

According to official Italian statistics, the number of migrant arrivals from Tunisia, which had been decreasing from autumn to the beginning of the year, increased between mid-March and mid-April with 5,587 arrivals.

The European Union struck a deal with Tunisia to provide financial aid in exchange for curbing migrant departures, at the initiative of Meloni, who came three times last summer to Tunisia, including twice with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.

The memorandum of understanding signed in mid-July has drawn fierce criticism in Europe, with the European Parliament voting in mid-March on a resolution challenging the conditions for Brussels’ disbursement of 150 million euros to support Tunisia’s budget by condemning “the erosion of rights in Tunisia.”

The European Union has begun disbursing $105 million in aid to combat illegal migration.

According to Italian sources, Meloni is also coming to Tunisia to strengthen bilateral cooperation under the “Mate Plan for Africa” and is planned to provide direct assistance to the Tunisian budget as well as a credit line for small and medium-sized enterprises.

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