Tunisia has become a real pluralistic country post-revolution: says Ambassador Tarek Azouz

November 21, 2012

New Delhi, November 21, 2012: Speaking on the topic "The Arab Spring: Tunisian Case", on November 21, 2012 at the Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses (IDSA), New Delhi, Mr. Tarek Azouz, the Tunisian Ambassador to India, stated that the Jasmine Revolution or the "Revolution of Dignity and Freedom" was relatively ‘quick and clean’ in Tunisia in terms of human costs.

Deliberating on the present political situation of the country the Ambassador said that, after the revolution Tunisian people are enjoying political freedom and freedom of expression. He said, "After almost two years of revolution...Tunisians have started to enjoy new freedoms and political rights: freedom of expression and the right to assembly and protest. More than 100 political parties and hundreds of NGOs have made Tunisia a real pluralistic country". The recent elections have been successful and unprecedented in the history of Tunisia. Women were encouraged to participate in the elections and social media was used by the political parties for the election campaigning. Parties were able to campaign without any restrictions or harassment. Several independent bodies have been formed in the country.

The Economy of the country is picking up and annual growth rate is expected to reach 3.2 to 3.5 percent in 2012, but the global economic recession, particularly in Europe poses a challenge to the Tunisian economy. Around 80 per cent of Tunisia’s trade takes place with Europe. By 2017, Tunisia expects 6-7 percent growth rate in the economy.

Regarding the foreign policy of his country, Ambassador Azouz stated that the foreign policy priorities of the country would remain unaffected in the post-revolution Tunisia. Tunisia is engaging Europe at a higher level – to make Tunisian economy more integrated with Europe but at the same time it is also engaging Asian powers like India, China and Japan. Tunisia prefers to engage with all the countries without giving special priority to any one country over another.

Speaking on the connections with the Ennahda Party and the Muslim Brotherhood, he stated that the two parties enjoy good relations since they represent the new era of change in the region. He also stated that Ennahda Party is representing the mainstream Islam and does not adopt any specific model.

The Ambassador said that Tunisia is and will remain a moderate state. It has a long history of modernisation having abolished slavery in 1848, banned polygamy in 1956 and given equal rights to women.

Speaking on the India-Tunisia relations, he stated that though India and Tunisia enjoy cordial relations, the results have not been up to the level of expectation. The bilateral total trade between the two at present is USD 800 million. Both countries plan to take it to USD 1 billion in the near future. He pointed out that science & technology, water technology, information technology etc as some of the potential areas of future cooperation between the two countries. He also said that Tunisia is open to any best practices from India but at present the cooperation from India on the electoral system would be important as Tunisia marches towards democracy. Similarly, he noted that the bilateral high level visits have not been up to the mark in the recent past and both the countries are hoping to increase the number of such visits.