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The Situation in Tunisia, PACE 21st June 2011

Report by Ms Anne Brasseur

Speech by Mr Antti Kaikkonen

 

Honourable Chair,

 

I want to thank Ms. Brasseur for the good and detailed work she has done with the report 'The situation in Tunisia'. It is important to examine the situation in Tunisia after the Jasmine Revolution.

 

I must say, the Tunisian people are brave. They had the courage to oppose the Ben Ali regime which had dominated the country for years. The people of Tunisia wanted to gain the freedom of ruling their own lives, the freedom of speech and the freedom of assembly. They fought for their rights despite violent repression.

 

The democratization process is creditably progressing in Tunisia. I find the aim of Assembly to put its experience of accompanying democratic transitions and establishing new institutions, especially important. It is also essential to remember that he changes should be made on the conditions of the Tunisian people, their culture and traditions.

 

Although there have been many steps forward in Tunisia the success hasn’t reached all the areas of society. The unemployment rates are alarmingly high. International solidarity is needed in creating jobs and stimulating economy despite the efforts of the provisional government. The Council of Europe member states also should play role in this. The weak economic situation may lead to frustration of the people and thus even stop the support for revolution. I strongly support the Assembly’s proposal that civil society players take an active role in the election process and afterwards. They are the key figures in promoting democratic values in the framework of reforms.

 

The future Tunisia is built by the civil society and by the future Tunisian authorities. They both have their own important contribution in forming of a fair society - the society that the Tunisians want. Although it requires many efforts, they’re not impossible to achieve. Tunisia needs to pay more attention to the opinion of the youth and women. It has to continue and develop the positive advancements like the high level of education. Tunisia must not stop – it has to go further. It can do that with the help of the Council of Europe and its legal instruments available for non-members.  As mentioned in the report, it is important to strengthen the dialogue between the Council of Europe and the political forces and civil society players of Tunisia. The dialogue can concretize here in Strasbourg.

 

I support the Assembly’s recommendation to the Committee of Ministers to establish a programme to assist with the institutional and political reforms in Tunisia. The funding of such a program should be guaranteed by the member states.

 

The democratization process doesn’t happen quickly. It doesn’t happen in “our” conditions. The Council of Europe member states have good experience and practises in the fields of democratization and human rights. The same good practises should be brought available for the Tunisian people. But I repeat: the reform process should be made on the conditions of the Tunisians.

 

Tunisia faces many political, economic and social challenges. The political life is still relatively unstable and diverse. There are several parties which promote only one theme. The risk that people become bemused in this situation is real. Especially in this matter Tunisia could follow the good practises of the young democracies in Europe

 

Even though the revolution has emancipated the people of Tunisia politically, economic it has been disastrous. The riots drove away tourists and the military intervention in neighbour country Libya also causes harmful effects on the Tunisian economy. Young people especially are leaving the country, even 25 000 since January 2011. Those people are needed in their own country. The irregular immigration from Tunisia dominates the discussion about Tunisia in European countries and causes tensions that are definitely not desirable.

 

The Parliamentary Assembly and the Council of Europe as a whole should continue offering their experience for the Tunisian partners. Tunisia doesn’t survive alone. It needs good practises and financial support. The price of the revolution was the economic catastrophe. I believe that when the political situation has calmed down and when adequate support is received from the Council of Europe and from other partners, Tunisia has the chance to bloom again.

 

I strongly support the report and its resolutions. Thank you.