Cyprus’ Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dr. Erato Kozakou-Marcoullis represented the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Catherine Ashton in the EU – Tunisia Association Council held today, November 19, in Brussels.
This was the ninth meeting of the EU – Tunisia Association Council. The Tunisian delegation was led by Minister of Foreign Affairs Rafik Abdessalem and included the Minister of Investment and International Cooperation Riadh Bettaïeb. European Commissioner Štefan Füle, responsible for Enlargement and European Neighbourhood Policy, also participated in the meeting.
The Association Council started with the political dialogue between the two sides, covering current international issues of common interest, and particularly the situation in Gaza, the crisis in Syria, developments in Libya and the Sahel, as well as issues related to regional cooperation. These included the Union for the Mediterranean, the Maghreb and 5 + 5, a diplomatic forum which includes ten Mediterranean countries – five north and five south of the sea -, as well as relations between the EU and the League of Arab States.
EU-Tunisia Action Plan
The plenary session of the EU –Tunisia Association Council was devoted to the situation in Tunisia, and on relations between the Union and Tunisia. Both parties welcomed the conclusion of a political agreement on the new five year EU –Tunisia privileged partnership Action Plan. Trade between the EU and Tunisia, agriculture, mobility, labour exchanges as well as the open sky agreement were also discussed. The two parties also focused on the process of democratic transition in Tunisia, and remaining challenges, including drafting of the new constitution, and holding the next general elections.
“We are here today to reaffirm, once again, the privileged partnership between Tunisia and the European Union, as symbolised by our political agreement of the new EU Tunisia Action Plan,” stated Dr. Marcoullis at a Press Conference after the meeting. She also underlined the importance of the New Action Plan as a political tool to support the Tunisian progress to democracy in the years to come, but also an opportunity for Tunisia to anchor the achievements of the transition in a closer relation with Europe.
Minister Marcoullis also commended the high Tunisian ambitions on governance, human rights and democracy, which mark the clearest break with the past and embody the values that are at the heart of the Tunisian revolution and the Arab Spring.
In his remarks, the Tunisian Minister of Foreign Affairs reaffirmed that the process of democratisation of Tunisia is irreversible. On his part, Commissioner Füle, stressed: “success of the transition is in your own hands and will require still a lot of efforts. But you are not alone and we are ready to assist you. This Association Council was another example of it.”
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