The Tunisian president’s about-face Kai Saied on the partnership offer proposed byEuropean Union he generated embarrassment among the ranks of the Italian government and the Brussels executive, “surprised” by an unclear position of the Tunisian counterpart. THE European socialistswho have always viewed the memorandum d’intesacriticize the decision of Tunis explaining that Europe it does not need “agreements with regimes like Tunisia”. The People’s Party, on the other hand, see the memorandum as the only solution to the migration crisis, explaining that “there are no alternatives”. However, no one seems to want to understand the complex reasons that pushed the Tunisian government not to continue with the negotiations. For the former Tunisian Labor Minister Faouzi Abderrahmane “the about-face is above all European” as in the eyes of the Tunisian president there was a “deceit” compared to the July agreements: “Meloni played an unfair game in suggesting that the Rome conference would lead to a global and more reasoned approach to the migration issue” when Tunisia was always “in fact considered as an enlargement of Frontex”, as Saied has always maintained.
The French monthly Young Africagiving a clarification on the reasons for Saied’s rethinking, explains that “the attitude of Italy – or more precisely of Giorgia Meloni and his head of diplomacy, Antonio Tajani – ended up annoying Tunis”. In fact, the article states that, “wanting to impose one’s opinions, sometimes speaking on behalf of African countriesRome would have interfered a little too often in the internal affairs of its partners.” An example could be the declaration of Foreign Minister Tajani who, in a hearing at the joint Foreign Affairs commissions of the Senate and Chamber last March, highlighted “the porosity of the Tunisian borders”, with many migrants arriving from Ivory Coast. The minister had then suggested the need for Tunisia apply for a visa to those who come from the countries ofSub-Saharan Africaa question which however concerns only the bilateral relations among those countries. Or even when the deputy prime minister himself took a strong position, in agreement with Meloni, in wanting to convince the International Monetary Fund to grant Tunis the loan of 1.9 billion dollars (frozen by the international organization because Saied refuses the reforms requested in exchange), negotiating for Tunis and its government. Ghazi Ben Ahmedpresidente del think tank Mediterranean Development Initiativethen explains that “Tunisia’s refusal to adhere to the dictates of the EU is an affront to Giorgia Meloni and the Italian far right, who pass from failure to failure”. “Meloni is too much impulsive e unable to find solutions in the medium and long term” and “Europeans will have to remember this in the next elections”, concludes Ben Ahmed.
Things then got even worse starting from September 17th, when the Italian Prime Minister and the President of the EU Commission Ursula von der Leyen they presented to Lampedusa and “ten point plan” which describes the “possibility of a working agreement between the Tunisia e Frontex and a coordination task force within Europol focused on the fight against migrant trafficking along the route to Tunisia and then towards Lampedusa”. European diplomatic sources then also spoke about the possibility of establishing a search and rescue area (SAR area) in Tunisian waters, all issues not covered in the preliminary agreements that led to the July memorandum of understanding.
The French president then followed the same line Emmanuel Macron gave its explicit support to Giorgia Meloni and declared, in an interview broadcast on September 24, that he wanted to condition the budgetary aid provided to the Tunisians by offering, in exchange for the money, “experts and equipment to dismantle the trafficking networks”. The next day Kai Saied instructed its Foreign Minister to “inform the European side” of its “decision to postpone the visit planned by a European Commission delegation to Tunisia to a later date”, explaining then, on 2 October, that Tunisia doesn’t want “handouts” but demands “respect”, alarming therefore the institutions of Rome and Brussels on one potential unilateral exit give me a reminder
Various Tunisian media, NGOs and political parties (including opposition ones) then denounced Macron’s words and the European plan presented in Lampedusa as “a attack on national sovereignty“, labeling European declarations and decisions as the result of a “colonialist mentality”. “The situation is so complex that it is difficult to dare predict the outcome,” he writes in an editorial Zyed warsdirector of the Tunisian newspaper Maghreb. To get out of the crisis, Ghazi Ben Ahmed instead believes that “it is time to return toAssociation Agreement (from 1998, ndr), after the failures of the memorandum of understanding and the Lampedusa ten-point agreement. There Tunisia needs one true European solutiona global solution”.