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Tunisian president on the Arab Spring, foreign aid and Libya


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Tunisian president on the Arab Spring, foreign aid and Libya

Following the first summit between the European Union and Tunisia in Brussels, Tunisian President Béji Caïd Essebsi discusses the war in Libya, the fight against terrorism and the investment conference of Tunisia 2020.

Charles Salamé, euronews:
Mr President of the Republic of Tunisia, Beiji Caïd Essebsi, you are in Brussels on the occasion of the first EU-Tunisia summit, thank you for being with us on euronews.

President Beiji Caïd Essebsi:
Thank you.

euronews:
At the investment conference Tunisia 2020, your country obtained approximately 14 billion euros, equivalent to the Tunisian budget for 2017. What do you expect from the EU-Tunisia summit, do you consider that the European Union has sufficiently helped?

President Beiji Caïd Essebsi:
First of all, for a long time, we have been cooperating with the European Union on several levels, now it appears that the European Union has made considerable steps to help Tunisia, it may be insufficient but for us it is still an important step.

euronews:
Insufficient you say, what more do you ask of the European Union?

President Beiji Caïd Essebsi:
We call for support for our commitment to democracy, which is a difficult choice in the current context of the region where we are. Tunisia is an exception in this region of the world. Our success in the path of democratization must be sustained in view of our relations with the European Union and the democratic choices undertaken by Tunisia, which is not the case in other countries. Europe, which always encourages us to continue our efforts, must be in solidarity with us financially and politically. And even if it is only political solidarity that would suffice.

euronews:
Mr President, many questions have arisen about the financial aid granted to Tunisia by Qatar, will this aid end as soon as the coalition government ceases with the “Al-Nahda” party supported by Qatar?

President Beiji Caid Essebsi:
First of all, financial aid from Qatar is one of many. Secondly, Qatari support is not new, we have been cooperating for many years with Qatar and it has nothing to do with the Al-Nahda party, which is part of the Tunisian government, thus with Al-Nahda and without Al-Nahda, Qatari aid to the Tunisian government will exist. We do not agree with the interpretations that Qatar is helping Tunisia, thanks to a coalition with the Al-Nahda party.


Biography: Beji Caid Essebi

  • Prime Minister of Tunisia from February to December 2011
  • Founder of the Nidaa Tounes political party, 2012
  • In 2014 he became the 5th President of Tunisia
  • Born Nov 29, 1926 he is currently the oldest Arab president

euronews:
Mr President, investments disappears if security is threatened. What are you doing for security in Tunisia?

President Beji Caid Essebsi:
First, we are fighting terrorism, we are concerned about the security of our citizens because the fight against terrorism is the symbol of security in Tunisia. But it must be said that Tunisia is at the forefront in the fight against terrorism in the region. This struggle is beneficial for the European Union as well as for some European countries.

euronews:
But terrorism is a threat from neighboring Libya.

President Beji Caïd Essebsi:
In Tunisia, Algeria and even in Egypt, our desire is for Libya to regain its former status and prevent the division of Libyan territory because the division will result in a major catastrophe. And if anyone thinks of a partition of Libya, this idea has no future.

euronews: So you do not propose any solution to the Libyan problem either tactically or strategically?

President Beji Caïd Essebsi:
The countries that have a direct and secure connection with Libya, geographically and economically are Egypt, Algeria and Tunisia, and if we can meet in the presence of the Libyans we could provide this country with an important opportunity to return to normal.

euronews:
Is there anything preventing a meeting amongst Libya, Egypt and Tunisia?

Président Beji Caïd Essebsi:
Nothing prevents such a meeting, Tunisia on the contrary wishes…

euronews:
Several Tunisian fighters are in the ranks of the organization of Daeech…

President Beji Caïd Essebsi:
That’s true…

euronews:
Maybe they will return to Tunisia, what measures are you going to implement if they do?

President Beji Caïd Essebsi:
First of all, we cannot forbid the return of Tunisians to Tunisia, it is unconstitutional. Secondly, any person who returns to the country will be treated taking the security policy into account. We have taken our precautions to preserve the safety of our compatriots so those who want to return home are welcome and everyone will be treated according to their actions.

euronews:
You mean their acts once in Tunisia or their past actions?

President Beji Caïd Essebsi:
Acts before one’s return are references to certain actions against those which must be prevented.

euronews:
Some countries are trying to take steps to re-establish diplomatic relations with Syria. Is Tunisia also in line to do the same in the present circumstances?

President Beji Caïd Essebsi:
We are acting in accordance with a common Arab agreement, currently Tunisia chairs the Arab council of Ministers and we will take the decision that will be approved by the Arab community.

euronews:
In your opinion, what is the solution for Syria?

President Beji Caïd Essebsi:
The situation is difficult, the crisis has taken international dimensions with the interventions of Russia, the United States and those of other countries. This must be taken into consideration and makes the crisis even larger than any Arab or even Syrian decision.

euronews:
Mr President, you have topped your political career with the presidency, the stabilization of your country, and the promise of investment; as well, you entrust the governance of your country to the youth… What message would you like to send to young people and Tunisians via euronews?

President Beji Caïd Essebsi:
We believe that the recent decisions to rejuvenate the government and the enormous participation of women in government are steps and decisions that will strengthen us in the 21st Century and narrow the gap between us and developed countries. It is our personal wish that we want to achieve during the remainder of our mandate, we still have three years of the five-year mandate left. We hope that our global friends and our brothers will help so that Tunisia becomes the example to be followed by other Arab countries, so that the Arab Spring that is not yet realized becomes reality … it began, we can say, in Tunisia. We hope that the Arab Spring will be realized in all the Arab countries.

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