NEWS

Euro summit to focus on immigration

MADRID (AFP) – Cooperation to combat illegal immigration, along with fighting terrorism, will feature as a key theme of the Euro-Mediterranean summit, opening tomorrow in Barcelona. Spanish Foreign Minister Miguel Angel Moratinos says the host government will call for a «global approach» after Spain and Morocco struggled to cope with a sub-Saharan influx during October at a summit marking the 10th anniversary of a cooperation program between the European Union and the countries on the southern rim of the Mediterranean. «Immigration will be one of the (summit’s) most important aspects,» according to Moratinos. As well as the sub-Saharan influx, of which Morocco and Spain have borne the brunt and bringing the issue to the forefront of the summit, immigration from the Middle East via Turkey and Greece will also be addressed. According to a study by Britain’s National Criminal Intelligence Service (NCIS), immigration and organized crime go hand in hand «where the migrants are essentially willing participants,» even if exploitation is their fate at the hands of traffickers. For the NCIS Istanbul is a key «nexus point» for Mideast immigration, others for Eastern European migrants include Moscow, Kiev and Sarajevo, while Greece and Italy have also been targeted by migrants from Eastern European states such as Albania. Algerian Foreign Minister Mohammad Bedjaoui suggested at a recent pre-summit gathering in Tunisia, which also saw the drawing up of a draft anti-terrorism «road map,» that a Euro-Mediterranean charter on immigration be adopted at the summit. Moratinos told El Mundo daily earlier this week that Barcelona would see the calling of a wider «conference of Euro-Mediterranean immigration.» He added that the summit would announce the creation of «joint maritime patrol and joint surveillance units» and details of how to finance them, the cash to be distributed among North African states bordering sub-Saharan Africa. Other elements in tackling illegal immigration include stepping up the technological battle to rein in clandestine arrivals as they transit through several countries, often using false documentation.