Paris, October 26, 2011
I think that what happened in Tunisia last Sunday is tremendously good news. After decades of disputable and disputed elections, the ballot went ahead under excellent conditions: no notable incidents, and very high turnout by Tunisian voters.
The Tunisian people voted freely and enthusiastically. It’s not for us to cast judgement on the choices they made: it’s the Tunisians who are going to build tomorrow’s Tunisia. But as friends of Tunisia and the Tunisian people we’re clearly concerned about what’s going to happen, and we hope with all our heart that the aspiration to freedom, which is central to the Jasmine Revolution, isn’t hijacked by anyone. That’s why we must act at three levels.
First of all, at the multi-party level. In Tunisia there are parties linked to Islam and there are secular parties. They must all be able to express themselves, develop and persuade Tunisian public opinion that their views are right.
Secondly, at the level of dialogue with the Ennahda party, which is affiliated to the Muslim Brotherhood. There are various tendencies – hardliners, moderates – and we must continue to talk to them to ensure that the respect they’ve hitherto expressed for the principles we hold dear is guaranteed.
And finally, at the level of vigilance over principles. As you know, in the framework of the Deauville Partnership, France is at the forefront in helping Tunisia and other Arab Spring countries. In that framework, we must check that our values are respected: that is, the democratic changeover of power, the rule of law, freedom of expression – and particularly freedom of religious minorities – human rights, and equality between men and women.
In conclusion, I’m convinced that Muslim people are not doomed to have to choose between dictatorship and theocracy. There’s also a path for them towards freedom, and we’re going to accompany them along that path./.