"There are no specific plans or precise ideas yet on sending back migrants rescued in the Mediterranean Sea. Such agreements would have to be developed and negotiated by the European Union," the spokesperson said, adding that this idea has been discussed neither with EU states, nor with the countries suggested as reception places for migrants.
The German Interior Ministry suggested that migrants would not be send to war-torn Libya but instead to some other northern African states like Tunisia or Egypt, and, according to the motivations expressed in comments for Welt am Sonntag, the goal of this proposal is to remove the basis for people smuggling organizations and to save migrants from the life-threatening journey.
"It was based on the idea of helping countries of departure to organize the reception of sent back migrants, who have not been granted asylum in an EU member state after a fast procedure, and on the other hand, offer those states resettlement procedures," the spokesperson noted.
According to the latest data by the International Organization for Migration, 159,496 people have reached Italy by sea this year and 4,220 died while trying to reach its shores.
While the German interior minister emphasized the humanitarian aspects of such a proposal, critics of the initiative accused him of shifting from Germany's well-known generous asylum policy toward highly controversial Australia-style migration policies, which allows for the detention of people on the Pacific Islands while their asylum applications are considered.