Is the EU Bribing and Blackmailing Tunisia to Crack Down on Migrants?

Source: Peoples Dispatch
Source: Peoples Dispatch

This article was produced by Peoples Dispatch / Globetrotter News Service.

The Workers’ Party of Tunisia and several human rights groups have strongly objected to a deal proposed by European countries on the movement of migrants. They have called it a violation of sovereignty and the human rights of refugees.

On June 11, top European Union (EU) officials visited Tunisia and issued a joint statement after meeting President Kais Saied, saying that both parties have agreed to work jointly to end “irregular migration.”

Critics of the deal claim that the EU is using Tunisia’s precarious economic condition to force it to control the movement of migrants across the Mediterranean Sea in exchange for financial support, just like they did with Turkey and Libya.

The Workers’ Party claimed in a statement on June 15 that any such deal will make Tunisia a “policeman” patrolling its borders so that people trying to escape their deteriorating economic conditions can be stopped from going to Europe and punished.

Reports indicate that the EU is pushing Tunisia to establish a harsh border policy in exchange for its support for the country’s stalled bid to obtain a $1.9 billion loan from the International Monetary Fund.

Tunisia’s loan has been stalled for months due to Saied’s reluctance to implement the reforms demanded by the IMF. Saied is reportedly worried that his government—already facing large-scale popular resistance since his political coup in July 2021—will face another popular upsurge if the IMF’s demands to cut subsidies for essential commodities such as flour and fuel, cuts to social services, and privatization are implemented.