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Immigration: Italy-Tunisia landing and repatriation accord

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07 April 2011

Italy and Tunisia have signed an accord on handling the immigration emergency. The accord was signed in Tunis by Interior Minister Maroni after lengthy negotiations with the local authorities. Maroni explained that this was "a bilateral technical cooperation accord to counter illegal immigration and to strengthen collaboration between the two countries' police forces; repatiations are also envisaged".

In order to monitor application of the accord, the government has set up an interministerial contact group, which includes, in addition to the Presidency of the Council, the Ministers of Foreign Affairs, the Interior, Defence, Infrastructure and Transport, Economic Development and Labour and Social Policies, with coordination by the Office of the Diplomatic Advisor to the President of the Council.

The accord was illustrated by Berlusconi and Maroni today at Palazzo Chigi in a meeting of the "director's booth" set up by the government, regions and local bodies, at which a government strategy was drafted for the difficult management of the 25,800 persons thus far landed, of which 2,300 are actually refugees fleeing Libya, and the reminder Tunisians.

Reporting to the Lower House, Maroni said that a decree would be signed today on temporary permits for immigrants arriving in Italy that would allow them to circulate throughout the Schengen area. The Interior Minister will be meeting tomorrow with his French counterpart to outline a common intervention system, and will be in Brussels on Monday to request activation of the provisions of EU Directive 55/2001 on temporary protection, which would allow any willing Union Member to take in a share of the immigrants, even after their arrival in Italy.

The theme of immigration will be among the items on the agenda of a summit meeting on 26 April in Rome between Silvio Berlusconi and French President Nicolas Sarkozy.