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Migration, security top agenda on Merkel's visit to Tunisia

German Chancellor Merkel will meet Tunisian Prime Minister Chahed on the second day of her North African tour. Though Berlin and Tunis have promised to work together, tensions could arise over German deportation policy.

In addition to her meetings with top Tunisian leaders on Friday, German Chancellor Angela Merkel will also give a speech to the Maghreb country's parliament as part of a diplomatic visit aimed at strengthening relations between Germany and Tunisia.

Merkel has called Tunisia a "hopeful project," reflecting not only Germany's support for Tunisia's strides towards democracy since the Arab Spring revolutions in 2011, which started in Tunisia, but also the importance the chancellor places on Germany's relationship with the relatively stable nation as a means to manage migration to Europe and to speed up deportation processes.

Partnership on migration and deportations

Though Tunisians comprise a relatively small number of migrants attempting to enter Europe, Tunisian national Anis Amri, the alleged perpetrator of the Berlin Christmas market attacks, was a rejected asylum applicant, which could infuse Friday's bilateral discussions of migration with political tension.

Deutschland | BK Merkel und der tunesische Premierminister legen Blumen am Breitscheidplatz nieder (Reuters/F. Bensch)

Merkel and Chahed lay wreaths at the site of the Berlin Christmas Market attack

Merkel, who has described Germany and Tunisia as being tragically connected by the terror attack, will likely reiterate her calls for improved cooperation on faster deportation of rejected asylum-seekers.

However, Merkel and Chahed's discussion could be complicated by both countries previous allegations that the opposite party failed to provide the documentation needed to facilitate Tunisians' returns to their homeland.

Despite being held in a deportation cell for the maximum time allowed in Germany, Amria was not returned to Tunisia as Tunisian authorities did not issue him the necessary travel and citizenship documents.He had been living in Germany under several aliases.

The controversial proposal for migrant holding camps in Tunisia and a migration agreement similar to that between the EU and Turkey are not expected to form part of the two leaders' discussions.

Securing the Libyan border

In contrast, Tunisia's border with Libya will be a key topic for the two heads of state. The conflict-ridden nation of former dictator Moammar Gadhafi has become a primary entry route for refugees fleeing to the EU.

Ägypten Angela Merkel & Abdel Fattah-al-Sisi (picture-alliance/Anadolu Agency/Egyptian Presidency)

Merkel visited Egyptian President al-Sisi on Thursday

Merkel also discussed stemming the migrant flow through Libya in her Thursday meeting with Egyptian President Abdel Fatah el-Sissi on day one of her two-day North Africa trip. While there, she described Tunisia, as well as Egypt and Algeria, as a major regional power with importance influence over Mediterranean migration crisis.

Germany largely views Tunisia as a Middle Eastern success story and provides the country of nearly 11 million inhabitants with millions of euro in development aid as well as training for Tunisian security forces.

However, international organizations, such as Amnesty International, have accused Tunisian security officials of undermining the country's fledging democracy through torture and human rights abuses. 

Tunisia also continues to be plagued by low economic growth, high unemployment and a decimated tourism sector.

Watch video 02:06

Young Tunisians hope to find luck in Europe

cmb/sms(AFP, dpa)

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