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France/EU/Tunisia/Transition to democracy

Published on January 20, 2011
Tunisia/Reply given by François Fillon, Prime Minister, to a question in the National Assembly (excerpts)

Paris, January 18, 2011

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The challenge the Tunisian people must take on is to conduct a successful transition to democracy commensurate with the hopes Tunisians have placed in the popular movement they have undertaken, which has led them to show great courage and brave all the dangers. Tunisia’s fate is in the hands of the Tunisians, but France’s role is to support Tunisia on the difficult path of democracy. As President Sarkozy recalled as early as Saturday, France stands alongside the Tunisian people.

France wants free elections to be organized in Tunisia; they are the only possible solution to the crisis Tunisia is experiencing. Moreover, we’re ready to provide the Tunisian government, if it so wishes, with the necessary assistance to take part in the preparation and organization of those elections. We also want to tell the Tunisian government that we’re determined to increase our economic and cultural cooperation effort. We’re already the main provider of development aid funds to Tunisia. To do more will be to show we have confidence in the democratic process under way. Likewise, it will show that we have confidence in the Tunisian people, that we’re encouraging them to stay, remain in Tunisia. Finally, in the European Union framework, we pledge to secure an increase in EU help, especially the granting of that special status which was given to Morocco and which may constitute another signal allowing the Tunisians to move forward along the path of democracy.

But the bottom line is the very long-standing and strong friendship which unites Tunisia with France and the Tunisian people with the French people.

Together we want to say solemnly to the Tunisian people – a proud people, a brave people, a people with whom a thousand-year-old heritage unites us – that everything is stronger, that this friendship is stronger than all regimes, and that we’ll continue to help them. (…)./.

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