Macron and Le Pen settle the electoral battle in the Maghreb

Marine Le Pe n and Enmmanuele Macron. / AFP

France announces a “drastic” reduction in visas for citizens from Tunisia, Morocco and Algeria

Pulse between Paris and the Maghreb countries, six months before the presidential elections in France. Paris announced on Tuesday a “drastic” reduction in the number of visas for Moroccan, Algerian and Tunisian citizens. President Emmanuel Macron has issued orders to cut visas in half for Algeria and Morocco and 30% for Tunisia.

The reason given by Paris for tightening the requirements for the granting of visas: the “refusal” of these three Maghreb countries to grant consular safe-conduct for the return of their nationals who have an expulsion order from French territory.

“It is a drastic decision, it is an unprecedented decision, but it is a pertinent decision due to the fact that these countries do not accept to readmit their nationals that we do not want or cannot keep in France,” explained Gabriel Attal, a government spokesman, in a interview on radio Europe 1.

Attal explained that Paris first opted for diplomatic “dialogue” with these three countries, then came “threats.” “And today we execute this threat,” added the spokesman. The goal is to pressure these countries to cooperate more with Paris and issue more consular passes.

In order to expel an immigrant in an irregular situation who has a judicial order of expulsion from French territory, but does not have a valid passport or papers, the agreement of the Government of the country of origin is required. He must grant you a consular pass so that you can return home. The problem is that governments often do not cooperate and France cannot expel them from their territory.

For example, between January and July of this year, the French justice ordered the expulsion of 7,731 Algerians, of which only 22 were carried out. In the case of Morocco, of the 3,301 expulsions issued, 80 were executed and in the case of Tunisia there have been 131 expulsions of the 3,424 ordered by French judges, according to data published by the French press.

Immigration will be one of the central themes of the presidential campaign in France. The announcement that the French government will tighten the procedures for granting visas to Maghreb citizens coincided with the presentation of the program on immigration by the far-right candidate Marine Le Pen.

The far-right leader announced that if she is elected president of France in April 2022, she will organize a referendum on immigration. Le Pen also promised “family benefits reserved for the French, the prohibition of the regularization of clandestines, the expulsion of criminal foreigners and the end of family reunification.”

The leader of the National Regrouping (RN) warned against “the false prophets” who promise “a cleaner fallen from heaven” in immigration matters. Le Pen was referring, without naming him, to far-right polemicist and essayist Eric Zemmour, who flirts with running for president. If Zemmour finally stands for election, it would take votes away from Le Pen and could jeopardize his qualification for the second round of the presidential elections.

Frigates for Greece

Paris sells three frigates to Greece after the submarine crisis Greece will buy three Belharra-type frigates from France, French President Emmanuel Macron and Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis announced on Tuesday in Paris.

Athens already announced this year the purchase of 24 Rafale fighter jets in an attempt to bolster its military muscle in the face of Turkey’s provocations in the eastern Mediterranean. This sale, worth about 3,000 million euros, is a small consolation for Paris, after the Australian submarine crisis. Canberra this month canceled a contract to buy 12 conventionally-powered submarines from France, worth $ 56 billion.

Australia did so after reaching an agreement with the United States and the United Kingdom for the creation of Aukus, a strategic military alliance to counter China’s advances in the Indo-Pacific area. Paris, annoyed at not having been notified earlier, even called its ambassadors in the United States and Australia in protest. He believed that Washington had torpedoed the submarine deal. After this diplomatic crisis, the French ambassador will return to Washington on Wednesday, Macron announced.

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