BREAKING NEWS

BREAKING NEWS

Tunisian Prime Minister: "Fighting terrorism is a priority"

On his first official visit to Brussels, Tunisian Prime Minister Habib Essid met with European officials and members of parliament. Charles Salamé

Now Reading:

Tunisian Prime Minister: "Fighting terrorism is a priority"

Text size Aa Aa

On his first official visit to Brussels, Tunisian Prime Minister Habib Essid met with European officials and members of parliament.

Point of view

An absolute priority for us is to safeguard our borders with Libya, where every precaution has been taken

Charles Salamé, euronews: What have you drawn from your visit?

Habib Essid, Tunisian Prime Minister
“We have agreed to raise the ceiling of loans that Tunisia can benefit from thanks to the European Union. We have also incited the European Union to act faster to deliver on what it has committed to for Tunisia. In parallel, we also discussed all of Tunisia’s commitments concerning several aid programmes that have been set up in the past.”

euronews Could you give us some figures?

Habib Essid
“Three hundred million euros of credits will be dedicated to strengthening Tunisia’s national budget. On the other hand, a little over 100 million euros in aid will be earmarked for water sanitation and other projects of social development.”

euronews Do you think those sums are enough?

Habib Essid
“No, they are not. We are asking for much more than what we have been offered.”

euronews Mr. Prime Minister, how much money does Tunisia still need to be able to balance its economy? And do you think the EU can give you this sum?

Habib Essid
“To answer your question, we are elaborating a strategic financial plan for the next five years. The detailed figures will not be disclosed to the media, but we are assessing the real costs of Tunisia’s needs as part of this program spanning to 2020.”

euronews
Now to the subject of terrorism…

Habib Essid
“We have set up a plan against terrorism, on the government’s initiative. Several operations have been carried out successfully. But the most important thing, in the fight against terrorism, is the cooperation that exists between Tunisia and its neighboring countries, as well as the cooperation with countries in the EU, which is very tight when it comes to fighting against terrorism.”

euronews
You mention cooperation with countries neighboring Tunisia. Do you think Tunisian security forces are properly equipped to fight terrorism?

Habib Essid
“Our national army and security forces are lacking military equipment. We have been covering this subject in our discussions with the EU, because equipping our army is an essential aspect of our cooperation.”

euronews
But, Mr. Essid, if your army is lacking military equipment, how can you make Tunisians feel safer, more confident?

Habib Essid
“Fighting terrorism is a priority for our government. An absolute priority for us is to safeguard our borders with Libya, where every precaution has been taken. Similarly, we have set up a vast programme for the protection of our tourist sites, to protect them from potential terrorist attacks. This programme has been carried out across all of Tunisia.”

euronews
You mention protecting your borders with Libya. Is the Tunisian army ready for military confrontation with terrorists or fighters from the Islamic State militant group, in the event of clashes at the borders?

Habib Essid
“The Tunisian army’s main mission is to protect the country from invasion, whether terrorist or of another nature. The army is ready to fulfil its duty. Since we have come to office, we have made this matter an absolute priority by developing protective controls against terrorists who dare to cross our borders or engage in arms trafficking. Our borders are well secured – and we have made this a priority since last February.”

euronews
Is the Tunisian president’s visit to the United States part of that new framework?

Habib Essid
“The visit has several angles, one of them being to boost our security forces. The Tunisian president also discussed with US officials the ways to strengthen our economic cooperation, which will have a positive impact on jobs.”

euronews
Is there a sort of US-EU competition playing in the favor of Tunisia?

Habib Essid
“Broadly speaking, the EU supports our national police, whereas the United States assists our national army, so we have reached somewhat of a balance.”

euronews
Do the smugglers of illegal migrants sometimes go through Tunisian ports?

Habib Essid
“Apart from a few rare exceptions, this is currently not the case. In 2011, we reached an agreement with the Italian authorities to send back to Tunisia any person landing illegally in Italy via Tunisian sea routes. All of the Tunisian citizens who arrived illegally in Italy have been sent back to Tunisia.”

euronews
What message would you have for Europeans?

Habib Essid
“To Europeans, I say that the problem of terrorism, which is worrying everybody, can only be solved through international cooperation. On the other hand, regarding the issue of illegal immigration, we believe that this problem must be treated in the countries from which these illegal migrants are coming. Because there are countries where misery is everywhere, and where regimes force citizens to leave their country. The solution to the problem of immigration must be found and carried out in those countries.”