EU, Afghanistan strike deal on migrant curbs

EU, Afghanistan strike deal on migrant curbs

EU, Afghanistan strike deal on migrant curbs

AFP Photo

The European Union said Oct. 3 that it has struck a tentative deal with Afghanistan to take back migrants ahead of a conference in Brussels aimed at securing international financial aid for the war-ravaged nation.
However, European Union officials have denied that aid pledges would depend on the Kabul government accepting the return of tens of thousands of Afghans from an overstretched Europe.

“The European Union and Afghanistan reached an important political arrangement yesterday, the so-called Joint Way Forward on migration issues,” European Commission spokeswoman Maja Kocijancic told a news briefing in Brussels.

She added there would be further “intense” work to implement the arrangement over the next few days.
EU member states last week endorsed the plan to pave the way for signing the deal in the run-up to the Brussels aid conference on Oct. 5.

The European Council, which represents the 28 EU member states, said the deal reflects the commitment of both sides “to step up their cooperation on addressing and preventing irregular migration, and on the return of irregular migrants, who do not fulfil the conditions for staying in the EU.” 

Like other parties to international treaties, the EU is legally obliged to admit people fleeing war and persecution, but can turn back people classified as economic migrants.

On the eve of the conference, London-based Amnesty International called for the EU to respect its international obligations to genuine refugees.

“It would be inadmissible that any agreement forged in Brussels makes financial assistance for Afghanistan conditional on the Afghan government’s cooperation to accept the readmission and return of asylum seekers,” Amnesty’s Said Horia Mosadiq said in a statement.

The EU, faced with its worst migrant crisis since World War II, has already come under fire for a deal with Turkey to take back Syrian asylum seekers from Greece in return for billions of euros in aid.

EU officials last week denied linking aid to migrant returns after the leak of an EU memo in March that suggested that financial pledges would be made in return for Afghanistan accepting 80,000 asylum-seekers deported from EU countries. 

Kocijancic declined to comment on the memo on Oct. 3 and said EU work to implement the JWF will respect international standards.

Among those attending the aid conference formally kicking off Oct. 5 will be U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, Afghan president Ashraf Ghani and EU President Donald Tusk.