Dutch PM to attend EU asylum talks on Malta

Prime Minister Mark Rutte and Minister Bert Koenders of Foreign Affairs will be attending the refugee summit between the European Union and African countries in Malta on Wednesday and Thursday. Rutte, currently on a trade mission in Japan, will be leaving the Asian country after a meeting with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to attend the summit.

Koenders hopes that the summit will lead to concrete plans with African nations on how to better deal with the ever increasing  number of refugees and asylum seekers. Many of the refugees arriving in Europe come from Africa. This has resulted in Europe negotiating more often with African countries both on the return and readmission of failed asylum seekers and on better border control and registration of migrants.

As Europe is the party making requests during the summit, it means "negotiations, give and take", Koenders said in a speech during Africa Day in Amsterdam on Saturday. "The migration agenda requires serious cooperation with Africa. Border security, terrorism, smuggling networks: there is room for negotiation. Based on self-interest, which leads to concrete results."

"Africa and Europe need stability for a new international partnership based on equality and shared interests", the minister said. He hopes that during the summit interests will be exchanged with understanding for the inequality of the players involved. "Europe expects and gets reception in the region, return cooperation, better border control. Africa expects more financial support, a reduction in the brain drain, opportunities for legal migration, balanced political dialogue and visa extension." According to Koenders, agreements must be translated into partnerships with African countries.

Minister Lilianne Ploumen of Foreign Aid and Development Cooperation expressed similar sentiments in an interview with newspaper Trouw. "It is important that Europe and Africa make a new deal as equal partners", she said to the newspaper. "Such a changing relationship is inevitable due to the economic growth and increased self-awareness in Africa. Many countries there share the share the Dutch desire to partly replace aid with trade that benefits the whole population."

She thinks that the recent deal between Europe and Turkey should be used as an example. The EU gives Turkey money and visa liberalization in exchange for Turkey giving refugees in the country more prospects and strengthening border security. Ploumen thinks that similar agreements could be made with the African countries. She thinks that temporary work visas for African nationals is a possibility. "I'm not going to prejudge the negotiations and unemployment is still high in Europe, but it is a matter of give and take." she said to the newspaper.

 

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