Berlin earmarks €250mn for Tunisia development: Merkel

German chancellor makes announcement at Friday presser in Tunis with Tunisian counterpart

Berlin earmarks €250mn for Tunisia development: Merkel

World Bulletin / News Desk

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

Merkel made the assertion at a joint press conference with Tunisian President Beji Caid Essebsi in Tunis’ Carthage presidential palace.

“Germany cooperates closely with Tunisia in the economic arena,” Merkel said.

“We will help Tunisians who wish to voluntarily return [to their country] and open a consulting center for immigration issues, for which we have specifically earmarked 12 million euros,” she added.

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

Within the same context, the two sides signed a migration agreement according to which 1,500 illegal Tunisian immigrants will be repatriated.

Merkel also answered reporters’ questions regarding a recent decision by local authorities in the southwestern German town of Gaggenau to cancel a planned visit by Turkey’s justice minister.

“There is a federal government and municipalities in Germany,” she said. “A meeting [can only be held] with… the municipality's permission.”

She added: “We ensure the freedom of expression in Germany.”

The first of its kind, Merkel’s one-day visit to the North African country comes two weeks after a visit to Berlin by Tunisian Prime Minister Yousuf al-Shahed.

While in the German capital, al-Shahed had discussed a range of issues with German officials, including the large number of Tunisians currently residing in Germany illegally.

During al-Shahed’s stay, the two sides agreed on the need to deport some 1,500 Tunisian nationals whose German visas had expired.

According to the Office for Tunisians Abroad (run by the Tunisian government), the number of Tunisian nationals in Germany amounted to more than 86,000 in 2012.

Following Tunisia’s 2011 popular uprising, Germany supported the country’s democratic transition with significant financial and technical contributions.

Last year, Berlin allocated 290 million euros to financial and technical support for Tunisia.

Güncelleme Tarihi: 03 Mart 2017, 20:35