'Summit about Europe, Africa working together to save lives and fight smugglers'

Federica Mogherini says Europe and Africa must work together to save lives, create legal migration channels and repatriate migrants who don't qualify for asylum

High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs Federica Mogherini
High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs Federica Mogherini

The Valletta Summit will not only focus on Europe pouring money into African countries, but on the two continents working conjointly to protect lives and fight human smugglers, EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said.

"Europe must build partnerships with Africa and develop common instruments, such as the emergency trust fund that will be launched at the summit," Mogherini told the press outside Castille. "However, I must stress that this summit is not only about money but about Europe and Africa creating new opportunities for people, fighting against criminal networks that exploit people's desperation, and doing so together.

Indeed, she said that talks will focus on saving lives at sea, creating legal migration routes, and repatriating migrants who don't qualify for asylum.

"These are issues common to the EU and Africa, and the only way to tackle the problem is to do so together," she said. "The EU is nie in a position that was unthinkable a few months ago when migration was seen as simply the problem of a few member states. It is now clearly a European issue."

She hailed Malta's geographical position as a perfect symbol for the summit.

"Malta is the EU member state closest to Africa, which gives us sense of looking for partnership," she said. "Also, it is an island and islanders know all too well that you cannot build walls across the sea."

An Egyptian representative told the press that there exists a lack of consensus over setting up migrant centres in transit countries.

"It is not an issue that is generally, to the Africans, under consideration, and does not take priority for us at the moment," he said.

In brief comments, German chancellor Angela Merkel spoke of the need to create jobs in Africa for Africans, Luxembourg prime minister Xavier Bettel called for more aid to be granted to Africa, and Lithuanian president Dalia Grybauskaite spoke strongly against the setting up of birder fences within Europe.

Several leaders, including UK's David Cameron, Frame's Francois Hollande, Greece's Alexis Tsipras and Hungary's Victor Orban refused to give comments to the press. European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker jokingly said that he'll go public on what results he expects from the summit tomorrow.

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