Tunisian Minister of Justice Ghazi Jeribi presides over the official opening ceremony and presentation of the national body to combat human trafficking in Tunisia on February 8, 2017 in Tunis. (Xinhua/AFP Photo)
TUNIS, March 4 (Xinhua) -- Besides strengthening bilateral economic ties, the repatriation of illegal immigrants to their country of origin constituted the central focus of the visit of the German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Tunisia on Friday.
Addressing to the deputies of the Assembly of Representatives of the People (ARP, Parliament), Merkel said that "Germany is ready to welcome refugees escaping the war, but illegal immigrants will have to leave the country, if necessary by force. "
"Many young people, by illegal immigration, hope for a better life in Europe. The European Union is working to cooperate more with Tunisia in this sense," said the German Chancellor, during an extraordinary plenary held in her honor.
Earlier in the day, Merkel was welcomed at the Carthage palace in Tunis by the Tunisian President Beji Caid Essebsi who announced the signing of an agreement between the two countries on the repatriation of 1,500 Tunisians illegally settled in Germany.
According to the German Chancellor, Tunisian emigrants illegally settled in Germany will be voluntarily returned to their country with financial assistance to facilitate their social reintegration, in particular their employability.
"We found an agreement on the repatriation of 1,500 Tunisians whose residence permit in Germany was refused. Those who want to return voluntarily will benefit from a financial contribution," explained Merkel.
"We are concerned about the human tragedy in some countries and we are ready to welcome refugees who suffer the repercussions of conflicts and are threatened by the war," said the German Chancellor.
On the economic side, Merkel announced that her government would provide Tunisia with 250 million euros in development aid, besides the launch of a center for development of the capacities of the young people which will have a local and regional scope.
The German Chancellor also announced the launch of a training center in Tunisia for the youth in specific fields in order to orient them to specialized sectors and guarantee their employability.
An additional 15 million euro will be provided as well by the German government to support development plans in Tunisia.
As part of the official visit of the German Chancellor Angela Merkel to Tunisia, the first Tunisian-German information center for employment, migration and reintegration was inaugurated by the Minister of Professional Training and Employment, Imed Hammami, and the German Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development Gerd Muller.
Financed by the German government, the center will open an open space for jobseekers who will benefit from a platform of information concerning professional integration, with an overview of concrete programs actually existing in Tunisia to facilitate the creation of projects, according to the Tunisian Minister Hammami.
According to Merkel, improving Tunisia's growth and its economic situation will save young people of the feeling of despair and, consequently, any attempt to flee to Europe by illegal emigration.
During her visit to Tunisia, as part of a tour in the region including Egypt, the German Chancellor expressed her respect at the initiative of the Tunisian President who calls for a "political resolution" concerning the Libyan crisis.
"Germany expresses its willingness to support efforts to spare Libya from the conflicts and ensure stability in the region," Merkel reassured at the end of her meeting with the President of The Tunisian Republic.
She also expressed her respect for the tripartite initiative between Tunisia, Algeria and Egypt. This initiative pushes for a political resolution of the conflict in Libya in which all the Libyan parties should be involved in a peaceful concession process under the aegis of the United Nations.
Tunis had hosted a tripartite meeting in February with Algeria and Egypt at the level of the foreign ministres, after which a summit of the three heads of state will be held soon in Algiers of Algeria.
The Tunisian president Youssef Chahed, during his visit in Berlin two weeks ago, categorically refused the installation, on German proposal, of camps of refugees who failed to cross the Mediterranean, which prevents their access to the old continent.
In a statement to the German press, Youssef Chahed made it quite clear that "this can not work" for lack of capacity to install such camps on the Tunisian soil.
This tension was triggered by the Tunisian Anis Amri, author of the attack of Berlin in a Christmas market last December, killing 12 deaths and about fifty wounded.
According to Berlin, Anis Amri had failed to obtain an entry visa to Germany in June 2016, and his deportation had not taken place due to lack of documentation provided by the Tunisian authorities.
Tunisia is ready to welcome its emigrant citizens illegally entered to Germany after verifying their identities in full respect of their rights while guaranteeing them the best conditions for a dignified life In their country, said the Tunisian Minister of Foreign Affairs Khemais Jhinaoui.
At present, the number of the Tunisian community legally settled in Germany is 94,536, told to Xinhua the General Director of Consular Affairs in the Tunisian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Chafik Hajji.
According to him, this number is distributed as following: 7,652 Tunisians settled in Berlin, 42,306 in Born, 22,319 in Munich and 22,259 in Hamburg.