Scandal: credit card and bank check refused at the French consulate in Tunisia

Since the publication of my article entitled “Why the Tunisia-European Union Association Agreement needs to be changed”, on November 25, 2021, in Capitalism, we are still far from the free movement of individuals in both directions, as outlined in my article .

By Fathi Azaiez *

In fact, Europeans still practice selective immigration, and it is hardly conducive to the development of their economies. Tunisian doctors, engineers, computer scientists… trained thanks to the sacrifice of their parents and the Tunisian state is cynically taken over and uprooted by the rich country. And we don’t hesitate to separate families by preventing parents from seeing their children freely so captive. Worse: recently, and by unilateral decision, the French authorities decided to drastically reduce the number of entry visas into France for Tunisian nationals.

The Wailing Wall of Visa Applicants

In order not to get acquainted with you, the French consulate is building a mourning wall for visa applicants. This wall is the service company TLScontact, a kind of parallel, informal and deaf consulate. Being informal, it is understood that cold hard currency, cash, is accepted there.

For loyal citizens who do not follow the chancellery, how is the galley: more than 3 months just for the delay in getting an appointment. A complex online request was submitted which the applicant withdrew without any respect obviously for his personal data! At least 45 days for file processing time. The TLS company only takes a week to send the file to the consulate located 10 km from its place.

The day of the appointment, the wait, the photography and the taking of fingerprints (the ten fingers of the suspect!). The request indicates the period of stay by attaching the plane ticket (an expense incurred without ensuring obtaining the sworn visa on time in accordance with the date of planned departure).

The TLS website allows the applicant to follow the file online. At least one month is required for teaching the request. Yes, the site implies instruction, a procedural legal term commonly used prior to indictment. The poor Tunisian suspect remains awaiting sentencing. While waiting and delaying the response, the suspect’s passport was sequestered. The latter, prisoner of procedure, must change his program more than once. He was unsure of getting his visa or unsure of the date of his hypothetical departure. He was so discredited and never in the appointment given to his French grandson. Angry and frustrated grandchildren too. What to tell them? That the country they belong to does not want the visit of their suspicious grandfather?

The embarrassing hurdles of a thorny circuit

A grandfather, in order to visit his children or grandchildren who are French citizens, a 72-year-old retiree in this case, has to comply with the strange embarrassing hurdles of a thorny circuit of more than 4 months. On withdrawal: issued 6 month visa? In six months you will be back at checkout. Out of respect for his children who are French citizens and because of his age, a smart grandfather should be visa -free. Because it’s hard to imagine grandparents in their seventies without papers looking for work or sleeping under bridges in France.

A diplomatic representation of a democratic country, defender of human rights, confiscation of at least 45 days the passport, belonging to the Tunisian citizen, symbol of his sovereignty and his freedom of travel.

Moreover, this confiscation of the passport and this indictment is not free and it is not issued. The icing on the cake, to the consulate’s delight, the suspect was deducted an advance of 265 dinars for the consulate and 111 dinars for the service company TLS.

Manna from heaven

Statistics on the issuance of entry visas for the Schengen area confirm that the issuance of visas is actually a cash cow. The French consulate in Tunisia alone issues an average of 145,000 visas per year. This calculation was made as an objective reference in the years before the pandemic, 136,000 visas for the year 2017, for the year 2018 is a number of 154,000 and 145,000 for the year 2019 (figures from government immigration services of France).

For the French consulate, this windfall brings in 38,425,000 dinars per year, equivalent to 1,280,000 euros. To better understand the importance of this amount, the consulate collects an amount of 128,000 dinars every day!

The service company TLS, and only with visas issued by the French consulate (because it leases its services to the consulates of other European countries), makes a jackpot of 16,095,000 dinars per year and 53,000 dinars per day! Lucky and happy is the owner of this company that inspires the wind.

Even more annoying: surprising amounts have accumulated in cash, the money is certainly odorless for the French consulate. For less than that, the speakers of (civilized) European embassies are shouting ill. They will take the opportunity to accuse Tunisia of money laundering and call on it to respect international obligations and agreements. We have become accustomed, in recent days, to hearing chancellery lecture us on their blah-blah-blah on freedoms and human rights.

Whereas in France, in the name of fighting money laundering, cash payments are banned and prosecuted, especially what Mohameds did. A Paul who deposited 5000 euros into his account in France is quite normal, it is the result of his labor. A Mohamed who deposited 2000 euros is suspicious. His bank reported him to the Banque de France, and an investigation followed.

Why accept these double standards even in our country. A service provided by a supposedly developed European country is paid for in cash! Credit cards and checks are not accepted. How does it qualify?

embarrassing discrimination

Out of courtesy and out of respect for the country you are welcomed, gentlemen consuls of civilized countries, respect, please, the Tunisian and his passport. Leave him his passport afterwards “teaching!”. If his request is accepted, he will need to present it to see the visa agreement attached to it on the same day.

Paradoxically, the “officers” Tunisians for serving their employers, the foreign chancellery, are rewarded. They are exempted from this embarrassing course. They submit their visa applications directly to the consulates and receive a visa that is valid for 1 to 4 years! Isn’t this discrimination as shameful for those who practice it as it is for those who benefit from it?

After doing this obstacle course, inspired by the quote from Aeschylus “Speech dispels anger”, and paraphrasing Stéphane Hessel, I say to the heads of the diplomatic missions concerned: “Anger at the contempt your services render for the deserving citizens of Tunisia!”

To the Tunisian citizens, worthy descendants of Carthage, I say this: “Be patient and keep your head high, because nothing lasts, history always proves it.”

* Expert in social law.

** Illustration: French Embassy in Tunis.

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