Meeting with Mr Jebali, Prime Minister of Tunisia
Twenty months after the Tunisian democratic transition began, the two leaders discussed the political situation and the recent events in Tunisia, as well as progress on deepening the mutual relationship.
The President and Tunisian Head of Government discussed the preparation of the new Constitution and the general elections, and also the reforms under way. ‘I am delighted by the guarantees you have given me today, Mr Jebali, on the irreversible nature of the democratic transition, as well as the unfailing commitment of your government to defending fundamental rights and freedoms for all Tunisians’, the President said.
They also discussed the recent events that have led to the attacks against American diplomatic representatives. President Barroso said that he was ‘encouraged’ by the statements made by the Head of Government, who confirmed that ‘the position of an extremist minority must not be confused with the feeling of the large majority of the Tunisian people who reject violence, hatred and extremism’.
This meeting has provided a fresh opportunity for the Commission to reaffirm its full support for Tunisia’s democratic transition and to underline the special nature of the relationship between the European Union and the new Tunisia. ‘The European Union has doubled its financial aid to Tunisia for 2011–2013 to EUR 400 million. We are also prepared to do more in 2013 to support the Tunisian authorities’ recovery programme’, the President said, referring also to the two financial agreements which have been signed today: one on Justice, and the other on social inequalities and healthcare services, which amount to more than EUR 35 million.
‘The cooperation and dialogue between Tunisia and the European Union is becoming greater and more in-depth, and it is our desire to continue to work towards a strong and solid partnership between Tunisia and the European Union’, the President concluded. He also confirmed the firm commitment to reach a political agreement on the privileged partnership between the two partners at the next Council Association meeting due to take place in November, and to advance negotiations on the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement.