Investment in Tunisians’ future will curb migration: Merkel

BERLIN: German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Monday proposed funding and education incentives for Tunisians who voluntarily return to their home country as part of her bid to reduce migration to Germany from North African countries.
Speaking alongside Tunisian Prime Minister Youssef Chahed in Berlin, Merkel said the two leaders had discussed proposals to bolster educational programmes for Tunisians and offer grants to those who wish to leave Germany and set up businesses back home.
The proposals are to be discussed further by ministers representing the two countries in the coming days.
Merkel described her talks with Chahed as “a working visit in the truest sense of the word” and announced that she plans to visit Tunisia in the coming weeks. At the weekend, Merkel floated the idea of creating a refugee camp in North African as part of plans to stem the flow of arrivals to Europe.
However, in an interview with Germany’s Bild tabloid ahead of the talks, Chahed said his country would not have the capacity to host such a facility.
At the press conference, Merkel said she and Chahed had not discussed the plan and stressed that Tunisia was not a key transit land.
Only 1 per cent of the migrants arriving via the Mediterranean in Italy were from there, she added, pointing instead to the largely lawless coast of neighbouring Libya as a source of unchecked migration to Europe.
Following the talks, Chahed and Merkel were to visit the site of a terrorist attack on a Christmas market in Berlin, which was carried out by a failed Tunisian asylum seeker.
Anis Amri rammed a highjacked truck into the crowded market on December 19. Twelve people died in the attack.
Prior to the assault, German authorities had rejected Amri’s bid for asylum, but he could not be returned to Tunisia because of missing documents.
Speaking alongside Merkel, Chahed reinforced his assertion that the Tunisian authorities had acted correctly in the case of Amri.
“How did he come to be brainwashed?” the Tunisian premier said, adding that Amri had been living in Europe for five years before he committed the attack. — dpa