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Morocco hosts Africa-Europe immigration conference

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Morocco hosts Africa-Europe immigration conference

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Morocco cannot be Europe’s policeman over illegal immigration. So says Morocco’s Minister Delegate for Foreign Affairs Taib Fassi Fihri interviewed by EuroNews in Rabat. The Moroccan capital is the venue for a conference of foreign and interior ministers from nearly 60 African and European countries. The ministers hope to agree on a plan of action over clandestine immigration to Europe.

EuroNews:

Mister Minister, thank you for talking to us ahead of the immigration meeting.

Let’s start with the latest incident. On Monday third of July, three people died while trying to scale the border fence separating Morocco from the Spanish North African enclave of Melilla.

How many have to die before there’s an answer to this problem?

Taib Fassi Fihri:

Naturally, Morocco deeply regrets these events, these incidents. I am happy to say it has been a long time since something like this last happened. I wonder about the timing of this attempt just a few days before the conference.

So, once again, governments have to sit down around the table to look at these problems in their entirety and to try to find solutions.

At the same time we must address the origins, the sources of this migration to the North, to think about why and how but also to fight against the networks that have sprung up, the human traffickers who’ve made a business out of transporting men and women.

It is only through working together in a controlled, coordinated, organised way, with stronger support from the European Union for the development of African countries, than we will be able to find a medium and long term answer to this long-standing problem.

EuroNews:

The European Union needs immigrants both as workers and because of the falling birth rate in Europe. At the same time Europe wants to choose the immigrants. While on the other side, the countries of origin want to keep their most qualified people. How do we find a balance between these two contradictory points of view?

Taib Fassi Fihri:

It’s essential to come up with practical and solid structures. That comes from joint decisions, from support for education and training, and a recognition of how we need to organise that.
At this level, I’d note it’s very clear, it’s evident that clandestine migration has a deadly effect on the possibility of legal migration.

EuroNews:

We already talked about the problem of people- trafficking. What can be done to fight that?

Taib Fassi Fihri:

Just clamping down on the people traffickers is never going to be enough.

To give a more precise answer to your question: exchanges of information, that’s why I’m insisting on cooperation between us, the countries in the South.

We need an exchange of expertise and experiences, to identify common methods and not to try to fight this situation just by concentrating on migration and clandestine migration because, unfortunately, along these same routes the people trafficking gangs have developed other sorts of smuggling and other kinds of criminal activity.

EuroNews:

Morocco’s geographical location has made it a “buffer zone” for emigrants heading towards the European Union. How do you feel about that role?

Taib Fassi Fihri:

Once again, we are assuming our responsibilities, but we think that Europe can’t limit its view just to its immediate neighbour. Europe must have discussions with all the countries concerned. And quite simply it should not limit itself to asking a country like Morocco to be Europe’s policeman.

EuroNews:

For the countries they come from, emigrants are an especially good source of income. The figures show transfer of funds from Moroccan nationals abroad is the country’s second largest source of income.

Taib Fassi Fihri:

I’d point out that the figures that you quote reflect a reality dating back several decades; and that it was Europe, at the start of the 1960s, that came seeking our young people when it needed them for rebuilding and development. Now, Europeans are asking is this relevant, never mind the past benefits or even the future benefits to be got compared to the needs of tens of million non-European people.

EuroNews:

Finally, you’ve talked about co-development. Who will pay for that?

Taib Fassi Fihri:

We don’t expect Europe to feel that it is its duty. We think that Europe can better coordinate its efforts with existing money, things that are currently spread across several programmes: the European Mediterranean partnership, the African, Caribbean Pacific Trade and Aid Pact, the various border controls.

All that must link to programmes with clearly identifiable goals in terms of job creation, sustainable development, in terms of promoting women, integration and education for young people.