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Catherine Ashton

EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice president of the European Commission

Remarks by HR/VP Catherine Ashton after her meeting with the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Tunisia, Mr. Ahmed Ouneies

European Commission

Brussels, 2 February 2011

Minister, first of all it is a great privilege that you have chosen to come to Brussels for your first visit. Foreign Minister Ouneies, it is such an important time for your country and we value very much the relationship between the European Union and Tunisia.

Of course, we have all watched the recent events very closely in Tunisia and beyond. The people of Tunisia and of Egypt have both voiced legitimate grievances and aspirations, and they expect a response, from their own countries, but also responses from partners like the European Union.

I have reiterated to you, Minister, our full support for the democratic transition, and emphasised to you that of course we look now for this government to act with deeds as well as words. And you and I this afternoon have emphasised the importance of the rule of law, the building of institutions, and the importance of this moment to move forward.

Minister, I have been impressed with the amount of work that you have engaged in, in a short time. We have discussed in some detail the plans and programmes of the government, and I know you came here directly from your council of ministers and I am very grateful for that.

For our part, we were able to discuss some of the concrete proposals, ways in which we can support you in the short term, but also build that support for the long term – electoral support, the transition in democracy, support to civil society and NGOs to fight corruption, and to develop economically and socially.

We are ready to consider more and to work as closely as we can to see this change come about, and to see you able to fulfil what you want to do.

Minister, you said to me that this is being done in Tunisia in an atmosphere of reconciliation and I pay tribute to that atmosphere, to you, and to the progress that is being made, and reiterate that the European Union will be with you in that process.

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