Illegal immigration, refugees top Arab-EU Summit agenda

German Chancellor Angela Merkel joins Egyptian President Abdel Fatah El-Sisi in holding the Arab-EU Summit in Egypt on Sunday. (AFP)
Updated 24 February 2019

Illegal immigration, refugees top Arab-EU Summit agenda

  • Heads of state, officials from EU and Arab League member countries to attend summit today
  • Some 19.5 million people globally have been forced to flee their countries

CAIRO: Egypt on Sunday will host heads of state, government officials and representatives from EU and Arab League member countries, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades and Bahrain’s King Hamad.

Refugees and illegal immigration will top the agenda amid the conflicts in Syria, Yemen, Libya, Iraq, Afghanistan and Palestine.

Some 19.5 million people globally have been forced to flee their countries. According to the European Border and Coast Guard Agency (Frontex), Syrians constitute the largest refugee population in Europe, followed by Eritreans then Afghans. 

According to unofficial statistics, Syrians are also the largest refugee population in the Arab world, followed by Yemenis, Libyans and Sudanese.

Hossam El-Khouli, secretary-general of the Egyptian Nation’s Future Party, said: “The EU … should call for the repatriation of refugees if conditions are appropriate.”

He said: “As for the right of asylum … a number of countries have granted asylum to criminals who have committed violent crimes against their own people and homelands.”

Summit participants intend to debate the necessity of combating this kind of migration, especially given its impact on the security and economy of many countries. 

Margaret Azer, an Egyptian lawmaker, said a country’s economic conditions are one of the main drivers of illegal immigration. 

“The decline of political conditions in several countries is (also) contributing to the rise in numbers of people seeking illegal immigration,” she told Arab News. 

“For example, we see that the biggest percentage of immigrants in Europe are from countries like Syria and Libya. The reason could also be religious or sectarian persecution, as is the case in Myanmar.”

Frontex President Fabrice Leggeri said although the number of migrants arriving in Europe dropped to 150,114 in 2018 compared to 204,750 in 2017, the agency continues to support border controls by providing more workers and technology.


Turkey says it wants to resolve dispute with Greece through dialogue

Updated 14 min 35 sec ago

Turkey says it wants to resolve dispute with Greece through dialogue

  • Turkey and Greece, NATO allies, are vehemently at odds over overlapping claims for hydrocarbon resources in the region
  • Tensions have risen since Ankara launched exploration operations in a disputed area of the Mediterranean on Monday

ANKARA: Turkey wants to resolve a dispute with Greece over energy exploration in the eastern Mediterranean through dialogue, Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said on Wednesday, but added that Ankara would defend its “rights and interests” in the region.
Turkey and Greece, NATO allies, are vehemently at odds over overlapping claims for hydrocarbon resources in the region, and tensions have risen since Ankara launched exploration operations in a disputed area of the Mediterranean on Monday.
Greece says Turkey’s exploration vessel Oruc Reis is operating illegally in waters which fall in Greece’s continental shelf, accusations which Ankara has dismissed. The vessel was accompanied by Turkish warships when it left port.
“Despite all this, we want to believe that common sense will prevail. Both on the field and at the table, we side with international law, good neighborliness and dialogue,” Akar told Reuters. “We want to reach political solutions through peaceful means in line with international laws.”
Akar said Turkey would continue to defend its “rights, ties and interests” in coastal waters. “It should be known that our seas are our blue homeland. Every drop is valuable,” he said.