Illegal Immigration is high on the agenda at talks between leaders of ten Mediterranean countries – 5 north, 5 south of the sea.
Heads of state and government of ten Mediterranean countries met in Malta on October 5th for the first “5+5 Dialogue” since the Arab spring, Algeria, Libya, Morocco, Mauritania and Tunisia, along with European partners Spain, France, Italy, Malta and Portugal, discussed security, defence, illegal immigration and other issues at the two-day event.
Participants called for activating the group as a framework for consultation between the two shores. The northern Mediterranean countries needed to “help solve problems facing southern shore countries, especially in unemployment and lack of training … “, according to the final communiqué, the Valetta Declaration.
Southern European countries also need to contribute to solving the problem of young people in North Africa wanting to flee to Europe in search of work, especially now that the opportunities “have receded due to the economic crisis in Europe”. They can do this “by helping south Mediterranean countries harmonise training opportunities with market needs, provide more work opportunities and raise awareness among young people about finding opportunities in their own countries,” the statement read.
The ten expressed their determination to combat terrorism, Algerian Foreign Minister Mourad Medelci said. Participants highlighted the link between security conditions on both shores.Tunisia proposed forming a joint intervention force to monitor shores and rescue immigrants, and Algeria called for creating an observatory for food security.
Democracy, not Autocracy
“If we manage to enhance the Arab Spring and make sure that it doesn’t turn into an autumn or a cold winter, major investment opportunities will appear in the European economy and the Mediterranean countries will stabilise,” Magharebia.com quoted Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti as saying.
Tunisian President Moncef Marzouki said that changes in North Africa “don’t pose a threat to Europe”. “Don’t be afraid of Salafist Islamic groups,” he said. “We want Islamic democracy, not autocracy.” European countries “will find many opportunities in our region”, according to the Tunisian president. “Europe is our destiny,” he said.
“The region has witnessed developments that will contribute to its stability,” Mauritanian President Mohamed Ould Abdelaziz said. “Our countries are now trying to reconcile democracy and governance.”
The leaders promised to tackle the “deep causes” of illegal immigration. “The management of migratory flows cannot be done through control methods only,” the Valetta Declaration read. The Euro-Maghreb dialogue group also agreed to create a joint taskforce between the ten countries to combat illegal immigration.
Concerning the Mali crisis, participants called for a speedy solution that would preserve Mali’s sovereignty and territorial integrity but stopped short of referring to a military intervention.
Participants agreed to hold two meetings for youth ministers from the ten countries in Nouakchott, to be scheduled later. They will hold a foreign ministers’ summit in March 2013.