Tunisia, to which Paris wishes to expel about twenty Tunisians suspected of being radicalized, has said that it is ready to receive conditionally “any” of its nationals, after a visit by French Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin on Friday.
Mr Darmanin was due to present during his visit a list of Tunisian nationals in an irregular situation in France and suspected of being radicalized, a move he intends to repeat on Sunday in Algeria, according to his entourage.
Tunisia is “ready to receive any Tunisian”, Tunisian Interior Minister Taoufik Charfeddine told the press, after an interview with his French counterpart.
“But this must be done according to the conditions and regulations” provided for in international law and “preserving the dignity of Tunisian,” he added.
The long-planned visit of Gerald Darmanin took a new turn with the attack that killed three people in the Basilica of Nice (south-east of France) at the end of October. The alleged perpetrator, Brahim Aouissaoui, seriously injured during his arrest, is a 21-year-old Tunisian who recently arrived in Europe.
It is difficult to know whether Mr. Aouissaoui became radicalised in Tunisia or after his arrival in Europe at the end of September, and whether the operation was planned before his departure. “The outcome of the Tunisian investigation will be decisive,” a source close to the French investigation told AFP last week.
Gerald Darmanin, who began his tour in Italy on Friday morning, stressed from Rome that the fight “against terrorism is the fight we are fighting against an ideology”, called “Islamist”. He called for “a cultural fight against this ideology, its finance, its offices and its support abroad.”
“In the last 30 terrorists who hit French soil, 22 were French, only eight were foreigners,” he stressed, believing that the “danger” was “also and obviously above all endogenous”.
In addition to his Tunisian counterpart, Mr Darmanin also met with President Kais Saied, who assured that the Tunisian authorities “would try to find a solution to current and future obstacles” in relation to expulsion.
Increase in departures
This tour will continue in Malta, where Mr Darmanin wishes to discuss the reform of the European asylum and immigration system, before a visit to Algiers on Sunday, on security and combating irregular immigration.
This follows a visit to Morocco in October, in a context of rising clandestine departures from the Maghreb, fueled by youth unemployment and lack of political prospects.
Of the 231 foreigners in an irregular situation in France and followed for radicalisation, 70% are from the Maghreb and Russia, where the minister must also go “in the coming days”, said his entourage.
Concerning Tunisians, there are about 20 people convicted, under an obligation to leave the territory, and whose expulsion has so far been refused by Tunisia, which invokes restrictions related to the Covid-19 pandemic, it is said from French source.
The subject is controversial in Tunisia, where the possibility of a return to the country of Tunisians who joined jihadist groups in Syria triggered hostile demonstrations in 2016.
“Make the machine go again”
“Terrorists from France would soon be with us,” worries the French-speaking daily Le Temps.
Several organisations, including the Tunisian League for Human Rights or the Forum for Economic and Social Rights, have lamented in a petition “political pressure against the Tunisian government” by European governments that “take advantage of the fear of terrible crimes committed by terrorists to get rid of migrants without documents in defiance of law and justice”.
Discussions also focused on ordinary evictions.
The aim is to “return the machine” of evictions to these countries, it is confirmed in the ministers entourage.
Darmanin must propose “health protocols”, as the process is influenza by restrictions related to the pandemic.
Mr. Charfeddine called for managing irregular migration not only safely, but by “development, cultural and economic solutions.”
After a peak in departures in 2011, followed by a sharp fall, attempts at illegal emigration have increased again since 2017 and Tunisians are the most numerous this year among migrants arriving illegallyin Europe via Italy.
By CCEiT (AFP)