Tunisia rejects EU financial aid, casting doubt on immigration deal

by MMC
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By Tarek Amara

TUNIS, Oct 2 (Reuters) – Tunisian President Kais Saied on Monday rejected financial support announced by the European Union in September, saying the amount was low and went against an agreement signed three months ago .

Saïed’s decision could undermine the July “strategic partnership” which includes measures to combat human traffickers and the strengthening of borders, and which came against a backdrop of a sharp increase in the number of boats bound for the Europe from this North African country.

The European Commission announced last month that it would allocate 127 million euros ($133 million) in aid to Tunisia as part of the deal to combat illegal immigration from Africa to the Europe.

“Tunisia rejects what the EU announced, not because of the small amount… but because the proposal contradicts the memorandum of understanding signed in July,” Saied said.

The July deal included a pledge of 1 billion euros in aid to Tunisia to help its ailing economy, save state finances and tackle the migration crisis.

The lower amount announced by Europe 10 days ago, however, frustrated Tunisian authorities who are struggling to improve their public finances and raised fears among credit rating agencies that the government could default on its foreign debts in the coming months. .

The conflict between the two sides coincided with the arrival of a record number of migrants from Tunisia and North Africa on the Italian island of Lampedusa.

Tunisia postponed last week the visit of a delegation from the European Commission to discuss the details of the migration agreement.

Last month, he also refused entry to five members of the European Parliament’s foreign affairs committee for meetings on the political situation in Tunisia, saying he would not allow interference in his affairs.

Some European countries, including Germany, oppose the immigration deal, saying it does not address human rights issues and the political situation after Saied took power, closed the Tunisian parliament and began ruling by decree in what the opposition considers a coup.

($1 = 0.9545 euros) (Reporting by Tarek Amara)

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