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Tuesday, 21 February 2017

Egypt could see a Turkey-style anti-migration agreement with the EU as early as next month

Egypt could see a Turkey-style anti-migration agreement with the EU as early as next month, the Reuters reports in a piece that’s been picked up by major global media outlets including the New York Times. The EU is offering simplified visa procedures for Egyptian nationals and increased economic aid to Egypt in exchange for “smoother deportations of unwanted African migrants,” two senior officials in Brussels said. Tunisia is also in line for a pact. Officials and diplomats say Cairo has put a high price tag on any new help. “Egypt has two concerns, socio-economic stability and security. And these are interlinked,” said an EU official who visited Cairo in January for talks on migration. “We are working on establishing a dialogue that would look at that, to the benefit of both the migrants there but also Egyptians from the most vulnerable groups.”

Wait, haven’t I heard this before? Yes, indeed you have, careful reader of Enterprise. We’ve been going on about this since last September, when the Austrians first pushed the notion of a migrant deal with Egypt; Germany back the initiative less than a week later. Top EU diplomat Federica Mogherini poured cold water on the notion of a pact earlier this month. Directly asked “On Egypt: is there a migration compact in the pipeline?” she replied, “No, on this question no, clearly not.”

What’s next? Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry is expected in Brussels for a foreign ministers’ meeting on 6 March, which another EU official said would be a good opportunity “for Egypt and the EU to agree that they want to intensify this cooperation.”

Also watch for: German chancellor Angela Merkel could be visiting Egypt in a matter of weeks, our ambassador to Berlin told Al Hayah Al Youm’s Lobna Assal last night. Merkel’s visit will come just before a delegation of German parliamentarians is in town to meet with members of the House of Representatives. Watch to see if Merkel make any of the right rumblings about an agreement. (Watch, runtime: 3:35).

Curbing migration and tightening border security were on the minds of both European Union officials and Shoukry when the Egyptian foreign minister and his Tunisian and Algerian counterparts signed a tripartite framework in Tunisia yesterday to end the conflict in Libya. Shoukry said that the main pillar of the trilateral talks was the Skhirat agreement, adding that the three foreign ministers stressed the importance of having a mechanism of political representation in the Libyan parliament and the High Council of State, Ahram Online reports. At a joint press conference, the three ministers again rejected foreign military intervention and stressed the importance of the army of the internationally recognized Libyan government, a perennial Egyptian talking point.

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