Visas granted to Morocco: France’s condition for cancelling its decision

French Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin has indicated that France is ready to reverse its decision to reduce the number of visas granted to Moroccans, but on one condition.

Speaking on Thursday in Parliament, the minister said that the decision concerning Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia regarding the granting of visas will be cancelled if these three countries agree to issue consular passes, documents that are essential for the return of immigrants turned away from France.

Describing the decision as “drastic, unprecedented but necessary”,  The government spokesperson Gabriel Attal believes the rules will be enforced as things have not moved.

“There was a dialogue with a number of countries, particularly from the Maghreb, and then threats, and they were carried out. We hope that this will push the countries concerned to change their policy,” the spokesman added, believing that “the position of these three Maghreb countries is a brake on the effectiveness of the Asylum and Immigration Law of 2018.”

Morocco, for its part, reacted to this decision, calling it unjustified. For Nasser Bourita, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, African Cooperation and Moroccans living abroad, this decision does not reflect the reality of consular cooperation in the fight against illegal immigration.

According to him, Morocco conditions the return of its nationals to the fact that they have a passport or a laissez-passer, but in the wake of the covid-19 pandemic, the Kingdom now requires that they justify in addition to a negative PCR test to be able to access the national territory.

What France does not declare, he noted, is that many individuals with travel documents have not been able to return to Morocco because they refuse to undergo this screening, which is optional in France.

The problem is Franco-French because if French law does not allow its authorities to force migrants to undergo this test for their repatriation, Morocco will not agree to change its laws to allow people coming from France to access its territory without being tested, he said. However, France’s decision remains sovereign, but the reasons behind it require precision and debate, as they do not reflect the reality of consular cooperation between the two countries in the fight against illegal immigration, the minister insisted, affirming that Morocco will closely follow this decision.

“We have taken note of this decision and consider it unjustified for a number of reasons, the first of which is that Morocco has always treated the issue of migration with the logic of responsibility and the necessary balance between facilitating the movement of people (students, businessmen and others.), the fight against illegal immigration and the firm treatment of illegal immigrants,” Bourita said at a press conference following a meeting with his Mauritanian counterpart, Ismaël Ould Cheikh Ahmed.

As part of this approach, the Kingdom’s consulates have issued, during the first eight months of the current year alone, 400 laissez-passer to people who were in an irregular situation, the minister said. “Based on this, the adoption of the parameter of refusing to issue consular declarations necessary for the return of emigrants is inappropriate,” Bourita said.

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