MEPs reject EU deal with Tunis, call Kais Saied ‘cruel dictator’

MEPs reject EU deal with Tunis, call Kais Saied ‘cruel dictator’

Members of the European parliament rejected the money in return for migration curbs signed between the European commission and President Kais Saied.

The deal includes nearly $1 billion in aid, loans and investments to help Tunisia stem the flow of migrants and comes at a context of outcry at Tunisian authorities’ brutal treatment of migrants.

The agreement was concluded between Tunisian President Kais Saied and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, who was joined by Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni and Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte.

The MEPs who criticized the deal cited a lack of human rights commitment by the Tunisian autocrat who has been backpedaling on democracy in the country.

“In short, we are doing a deal with a dictator who is cruel and unreliable,” Dutch Member of the European Parliament Sophie in ‘t Veld said at a meeting of the body’s Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs last Tuesday.

“This deal does not align with our values, it will not be effective, and it is not concluded in a transparent and democratic way,” she said.

Around 100,000 people have crossed the Mediterranean Sea to get to Europe so far this year, most of them arriving in Italy, according to the UN Refugee Agency.

The figure of Kais Saied, a man who has openly spread racist narratives against black African migrants in a manner that echoes the far-right conspiracy theory known as the “great replacement,” was subject to furious condemnation from EU lawmakers.

Speaking on behalf of the Socialists & Democrats (S&D), Birgit Sippel accused the Tunisian authorities of abandoning Sub-Saharan migrants in the desert “without food, water or anything else,” a pattern of behavior that has been previously reported by media and humanitarian organizations.

“We are now again financing an autocrat without political, democratic scrutiny here in the house. This will not be a solution. It will strengthen an autocrat in Tunisia,” she added.

“You have financed a dictator who flouts human rights, who tramples on the Tunisian democracy that we have supported so much. Don’t lie to us!” Mounir Satouri, from the Greens, said addressing the European commissioner for home affairs.

Ylva Johansson, the European Commissioner, said the money will be channeled through international organizations that work on the ground and provide relief to asylum seekers, like the International Organization for Migration (IOM), although she conceded some funds would be, in fact, provided to the Tunisian guards in the form of search-and-rescue vessels and radars.


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