Amb. Delattre Inaugurates Embassy-Led Diplomacy Series
On Wednesday, April 18, François Delattre, the French Ambassador to the United States, participated in a debate at the Johns Hopkins University’s School for Advanced International Studies (SAIS) in Washington, D.C., called "The Arab Awakening: One Year Later."
Hassine Dimassi, Tunisian minister of finance, and Mohamed Salah Tekaya, Ambassador of Tunisia to the U.S., also took part to the discussion, along with several renowned academics. The debate was moderated by Amb. Kurt Volker, Senior Fellow of the Center for Transatlantic Relations at SAIS.
The event, co-organized by the Embassy of France in the United States, the Alliance Française of Washington, D.C. and the Center for Transatlantic Relations, inaugurated a series of high-profile conferences called the "French Embassy’s Rendez-Vous," which will highlight the work of researchers on today’s predominant international topics.
- Aude Jehan, Mohamed Salah Tekaya, Ambassador of Tunisia to the U.S, Amb. Kurt Volker, Hassine Dimassi, Tunisian minister of finance and his translator, and Amb. François Delattre.
For the first edition, the panel discussed the situation in the Middle East, more than one year after demonstrations in Tunisia marked the beginning of what the media called the Arab awakening. Emphasis was put on the economic, social, religious and political challenges posed by the democratic transitions in countries such as Tunisia, Egypt and Lybia, and on the impact of the Arab Spring on the U.S, the E.U and the Middle East more broadly.
In an introductory speech, Amb. Delattre recalled that "France has been from the beginning at the forefront of international efforts to promote the democratic movement in the Arab world."
"There is instability and uncertainty in the Arab world," he admitted, "but should we miss the [days] of Ben Ali, Mubarak, Gadhafi? I don’t think so." "It is important to encourage the countries who have chosen the path of reform," continued Amb. Delattre, citing the example of Morocco.
According to Amb. Volker, last year’s events in the region represent "the most significant political development (...) since the fall of the Berlin Wall." "The Arab Awakening altered the face of the Middle East last year," added Aude Jehan, Visiting Research Associate at the Center for Transatlantic Relations.
The French ambassador saluted the role of Tunisia "as the pioneer of the Arab Awakening." Mr Houcine Dimassi, Tunisian minister of finance, agreed that Tunisia could serve as a model for democratic transition in the region. "The success or failure of Tunisia will be a reference for the whole Arab Spring," he said, acknowledging the challenges that his country is currently facing, such as unemployment, education and public infrastructures.
A panel of experts, composed of Suzanne Maloney of the Brookings Institution, Ömer Taspinar of SAIS and the Brookings Institution, and Julie Taylor from the RAND Corporation, then discussed the current situation and challenges in Egypt, Iran and Turkey, and answered questions from the audience.