Libyan FM rejects EU's ‘disembarkation platforms’

Libya was working with the EU to send the migrants to their home countries, said Libya’s FM. (Reuters)
Updated 19 October 2018
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Libyan FM rejects EU's ‘disembarkation platforms’

  • All north African countries reject this proposal: Siala
  • The EU suggested setting up these “disembarkation platforms” in consultation with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees and the International Organization for Migration

VIENNA: Libya and its north African neighbors are opposed to the EU’s plan for “regional disembarkation platforms” to stem the flow of migrants entering the bloc, Tripoli’s Foreign Minister Mohamed Al-Taher Siala said in an Austrian newspaper interview Friday.
“All north African countries reject this proposal — Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco and Libya, as well,” Siala — who has been on an official visit to Vienna this week — told the Die Presse newspaper.
“So with which countries does the EU want to agree these disembarkation platforms?” he asked in comments reported in German.
In June, EU member states approved the idea of creating centers outside Europe to assess migrants trying to reach the bloc and decide which are refugees in need of protection and which are economic migrants who should be returned to their home countries.
The EU suggested setting up these “disembarkation platforms” in consultation with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees and the International Organization for Migration.
Siala estimated that around 30,000 illegal migrants were currently held in detention centers in Libya “and around 750,000 outside.”
Libya was working with the EU to send the migrants to their home countries, he said.
“But unfortunately, some of these countries — many west African countries — refuse to take them back.”
In order to reduce the flow of migrants, Siala said Libya had reached an agreement with Chad, Niger and Sudan to bolster protection of its southern border.
“That’s actually where the European border begins, not the Mediterranean,” he said.
Asked what the EU could do to help protect that border, Siala suggested the bloc could offer “logistical (aid): landcruisers, drones, helicopters and perhaps a few light weapons.”
European Union and Arab leaders are to meet in Egypt in late February for their first summit as part of efforts to forge a new European-African alliance and fight migrant smuggling.
European leaders first mentioned the summit in Austria — which currently holds the rotating EU presidency — last month as they vowed to intensify talks with Egypt and other North African countries to curb illegal migration.


Utrecht attack: The Erdogan connection?

Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan addresses the supporters of his ruling Justice and Development Party during a rally in Antalya, Turkey, on March 17, 2019. (Presidential Press Service via AP, Pool)
Updated 18 min 22 sec ago
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Utrecht attack: The Erdogan connection?

  • Saturday, 4 p.m.: Turkish president uses footage of Christchurch massacre to inflame election supporters
  • Monday, 11 a.m: Turkish gunman in Netherlands shoots three people dead in rampage on tram

ANKARA: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was heavily criticized on Monday for using the New Zealand mosque terrorist’s video footage to inflame his supporters at election rallies.

After Erdogan spoke, a Turkish gunman in the Netherlands shot three people dead on a tram. Gokmen Tanis, 37, was arrested on Monday night after an eight-hour manhunt in the Dutch city of Utrecht. Police said initially the incident was a terrorist attack, but they have not ruled out a family dispute.

The Turkish leader used the video footage, filmed by Brenton Tarrant as he killed 50 people in two mosques in Christchurch on Friday, at a series of election rallies the following day. He said Tarrant’s manifesto was to keep Turks from Europe.

As the footage of Friday’s attack played on a screen, Erdogan said: “What does it say? That we shouldn’t go west of the Bosphorus, meaning Europe. Otherwise, he would come to Istanbul, kill us all, drive us out of our land.”

Erdogan’s use of the video footage, which social media companies have been trying to block from their sites, was condemned in both New Zealand and Turkey. New Zealand Foreign Minister Winston Peters raised the issue on a visit by Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu.

 

“Anything of that nature that misrepresents this country … imperils the future and safety of the New Zealand people and our people abroad, and it’s totally unfair,” Peters said.

“We had a long dialogue on the need for any other country, or Turkey for that matter, to ensure that our country, New Zealand, was not misrepresented.”

Turkey’s main opposition CHP party spokesman Faik Oztrak, said: “Is it worth showing this bloody massacre in order to gain a few more votes?”

In Utrecht, the man arrested for shooting dead three people on a tram had been detained previously on suspicion of being connected to Daesh, after he went to Chechnya to fight.

Gokmen Tanis, 37, is from Turkey’s central Yozgat province, the scene of several anti-Daesh operations in recent years. He has lived in the Netherlands since 1993.

Tanis was known to police for both minor and major crimes, including a shooting in 2013.

Suspect Gokmen Tanis is from Turkey’s Yozgat province, the scene of several anti-Daesh operations in recent years. AFP

The shooting took place in Kanaleneiland, a quiet residential district on the outskirts of Utrecht with a large immigrant population.

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte convened crisis talks immediately after the incident. 

“Our country has today been shocked by an attack in Utrecht. A terrorist motive cannot be excluded,” he said.

Dutch police issued an image of Tanis and warned the public not to approach him. 

“It’s frightening that something like this can happen so close to home,” said Omar Rahhou, whose parents lived on a street cordoned off by police. “These things normally happen far away but this brings it very close, awful.”