Tunisia turns back EU lawmakers

Tunisia has denied five EU lawmakers entry into the country, the European Parliament said on Thursday.

This comes amid ongoing debate about a migration-related aid deal signed this summer.

In July, Brussels offered Tunis one billion euros (1.07 billion U.S. dollars) worth of aid in the controversial deal.

The deal is partly aimed at combating irregular migration to the EU, and was signed inspite of allegations of human rights abuses by the Tunisian government.

The agreement, which came with conditions that Tunisia has yet to meet, is meant as an incentive for Tunisia to curb departures of migrants trying to reach EU countries by sea.

The parliamentarians planned to meet with civil society representatives in Tunis from Thursday to Saturday, after requests for meetings with the government were rejected.

According to Dietmar Köster, a German Social-democrat and member of the delegation, the aim of the trip was to gather information “about political backsliding in Tunisia on 

democratic standards and human rights”.

“This is an unprecedented scandal,” said Mr Köster, who linked Tunisia’s refusal to the earlier criticism of the Tunisian leadership by members of the delegation.

The five German and French lawmakers from different political grounds condemned the decision in a joint statement, saying they are “ready for and insist on a dialogue” with Tunisia.

The European Commission said it was surprised by the move after EU officials had visited Tunisia several times in the past months.


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