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Tunis/ Brussels, 15 March 2013
Press points by Štefan Füle, Commissioner for Enlargement and Neighbourhood Policy, at the end of his visit to Tunisia
Good afternoon, ahlan bikum,
It is always very inspiring to come to your country. This is my fourth visit here since your historic revolution and I can only repeat how important Tunisia is for the European Union.
This is a crucial time for the transition: We welcome the formation of the new Government and trust that it will do what is necessary to restore confidence in the political and economic transition and achieve the results citizens want to see.
This Government will have to reconcile the need to build a consensus on important issues such as the Constitution and the electoral law in view of the elections, with the need to quickly tackle Tunisia's urgent needs.
I met leaders of political parties, trade unionists, entrepreneurs, and civil society activists. And the two main messages I conveyed to all my partners were:
1) Nous voulons que la transition démocratique en Tunisie soit un succès et un modèle pour la région. C'est important pour la Tunisie. C'est important aussi pour l'Union européenne. C'est pourquoi nous sommes inquiets quand nous voyons que les réformes politiques et économiques ralentissent.
2) L'union européenne va continuer à soutenir la Tunisie dans ses réformes. Elle est disposée à discuter avec tous les partenaires (responsables politiques, société civile, entrepreneurs) comment adapter au mieux notre assistance aux besoins spécifiques de la Tunisie.
We respect your achievements since the revolution, but in last few months the positive momentum has slowed down. We are concerned that the worsening political climate and increased polarisation could derail the reform process. This might lead to instability and violence. That is certainly not what people of this country want and deserve.
All political parties need to work towards a calm political climate, based on mutual respect, inclusiveness and recognition, to quickly move forward to the approval of the Constitution and to the general elections, in a spirit of consensus.
If you ask what the EU is doing for Tunisia: we have substantially increased our financial aid, we made several offers to boost the economy (open sky, DCFTA, agreement on trade in agricultural products); we increased funding for the Tunisian participation in student exchanges Tempus and Erasmus Mundus.
We are proposing to launch negotiations on a mobility partnership which will improve the mobility of people. We have just agreed on a mobility partnership with Morocco and encourage our Tunisian friends and partners to rapidly follow this example for the benefit of the citizens of Tunisia.
Let me say once again: We respect the Tunisian people. We see you as a valued neighbour. You are facing many challenges and the success of the transition is in your own hands, but you are not alone. The EU is a partner you can rely on and that will always accompany you.