Diplomatic and Military Affairs

EU promises long-term support to Tunisia

Updated: 2011-02-09 14:51


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BRUSSELS -- The European Union (EU) should provide long-term support to Tunisia, members of the European Parliament said Tuesday.

European Parliament members met Tuesday morning to assess the work of the institution's delegation that was sent to Tunisia last week, following the ouster of Tunisian President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali.

European Parliament President Jerzy Buzek said the transition in Tunisia will not be easy as the country needs to make important constitutional and socioeconomic reforms.

During its visit to Tunisia, the ad hoc delegation identified several key challenges that need to be effectively tackled in order to go through the transitional period smoothly.

"First, economic and financial crisis, plus a tourism crisis which will most likely create a debt crisis too," said European Parliament delegation co-chair Pier Antonio Panzeri. Public security should also engage a lot of attention, Panzeri said.

Tunisia is currently receiving assistance from the European Union, which is the world's largest aid donor, and also from other countries and organizations around the globe.

"The international support that is flowing into Tunisia needs to be coordinated," Heidi Hautala, member of the European Parliament (MEP), said, "The EU should initiate some kind of donors' conference" to see it through.

The European Parliament adopted an important resolution this week, in which the MEPs asked for the setting up of a task force to meet Tunisia's need for assistance during the transitional process.

MEPs also emphasized the importance of sending an election observation mission to the country as requested by the Tunis provisional government.

"Maybe we should think of a new kind of electoral observation mission, which means a long-term follow up of the development of the conditions for free and fair elections," Hautala said.

Panzeri also called on the EU to review its neighborhood policy in order to manage more effectively the transition period and, in the longer term, the bloc's relationship with Tunisia.



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