Italy And Tunisia Strengthen Migrant Cooperation

Italy and Tunisia on Thursday signed a new partnership agreement that notably calls for stronger joint action against illegal migration.

The deal, which also covers cooperation in the fields of culture, health, transport, energy and security, was signed in Rome by Foreign Minister Angelino Alfano and his Tunisian counterpart, Khemaies Jhinaoui.

It includes a framework accord on migratory fluxes. Alfano said the two countries were “working in harmony to stop the human traffickers in the central Mediterranean.”

Italy already has an agreement with Tunisia enabling it to deport nationals of the north African state who arrive as illegal immigrants or breach the terms of their visas.

Rome wants to accelerate the procedures involved in such cases, and pressure over this has increased because of Anis Amri, the Tunisian accused of attacking a Christmas market in Berlin on December 19.

Amri, who was shot dead by police in Milan five days later, is thought to have been radicalised during a near four-year stint in Italian jails.

At the end of his sentence, he was earmarked for deportation to Tunisia but paperwork delays gave him a window of opportunity he used to flee Italy and relocate to Germany.

“We have to reduce the delays in the readmission process. It is not the same thing if the country of origin replies in three months rather than one,” Italian Interior Minister Marco Minniti told a parliamentary committee this week.

“If Tunisia had got back us to in one month, he (Amri) would have been deported.”

More than half a million migrants have arrived in Italy via the Mediterranean over the last three years, the bulk of whom departed from Libya rather than neighbouring Tunisia.

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