Germany and Tunisia sign new pact on migrant flows

Tracy FergusonMar 04, 2017

German Chancellor Angela Merkel announced Friday that her country had earmarked 250 million euros to support rural development and vocational training in Tunisia.

Merkel first heads to Egypt, where she will meet President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, before holding talks on Friday with Tunisian President Beji Caid Essebsi.

"It was agreed with the German side (that they would) provide $250 million to support the economic program.as well as $250 million to support several other sectors, including micro-enterprises and small and medium-sized enterprises, " it said in a statement.

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Essebsi, for his part, said the Tunisian consulate in Berlin had dedicated an office to verifying the identities of Tunisian asylum-seekers.

Germany is interested in creating opportunities and chances for Tunisians before deporting failed asylum seekers, she added.

"Without a political stabilisation of Libya, we won't be able to stop the human traffickers operating out of Libya who are responsible for by far the most arrivals in Italy", Merkel said in her latest weekly podcast.

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The visit was also a chance for Merkel to pledge support for a country often hailed as a rare success story of the Arab Spring uprisings that shook the region and toppled autocrats including longtime Tunisian dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali.

She later told parliament that Tunisia is a "beacon of hope" for Europe, praising both the pro-democracy protests and the country's subsequent managing of the "rocky path" to democracy.

Germany has made strengthening economic development in Africa a priority for its presidency of the G20 group this year.

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After meeting Sisi, Merkel is scheduled to meet Coptic Orthodox Pope Tawadros II and Sheikh Ahmed al-Tayeb, Egypt's top Muslim cleric.

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