Article by Alexandra Solom. Photo: Flickr/rebelo
Translation by Ben Engel
Having been Tunisia’s firm friend and partner throughout its history, the European Union has always maintained a privileged relationship with the country, brought about by cooperation within the framework of the first Association Agreement the EU ever signed with a south-Mediterranean country, and negotiations to make Tunisia an “advanced partner” of the Union.
In the absence of a pluralist political system, Tunisia, this friend of Europe, Mr Ben Ali enjoyed a monopoly over this recognised partnership for a number of years.
In the face of the collapse of the current regime, the finger points to the European Union’s rather tardy and cautious response: did the relationship historically enjoyed with Ben Ali justify such apathy and unwillingness to respond to the Jasmine Revolution, which came about through popular demand?
In this context it might be debated whether or not the European Union is a credible partner to help Tunisia organise free pluralistic elections.
That is the challenge faced today by the EU, which has just decided to send a high-level delegation to Tunisia to “gather information” about the situation on the ground.
The recent demonstrations in Egypt and Yemen reaffirm the urgency for the EU to adopt a clear position on democratic aspiration in northern Africa and the Middle East.
European Alternatives went to the meeting of MEPs of the Delegation for relations with the Maghreb to try to answer that question.
Malika Benarab-Attou speaks in favour of a strong Europe, which would not hesitate to support the key democratic movements in Tunisian society and which dares to finally adopt a courageous and efficient foreign policy. (coming soon) (Click here for the French version)
Hélène Flautre, who will go to Tunisia at the end of the week, gives us a different perspective on the Tunisian crisis, about the conditions that the EU will have to fulfil in order to help Tunisia, but also about the necessity to step up cooperation on civil liberty issues and to aid a swift transition to democracy. (Read here)
Other contributions from institutional figures and militants alike will progressively enrich this dossier.
Lakhdar Houamel presents his opinion on the role the EU could play in helping to make Tunisia a democratic country. (coming soon) (click here for the French version)
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