President outlines many areas of Franco-Tunisian cooperation
Tunisia – Statements by M. François Hollande, President of the Republic, during his joint press briefing with his Tunisian counterpart (excerpts)
Paris, 7 April 2015
I want to pay tribute to the Tunisian President for what he’s done; I met him in 2011, I didn’t yet hold the office I hold today, but he was Tunisia’s prime minister at a time when it was taking its first steps in the democratic transition. Today he’s President of all Tunisians, and he has succeeded in reconciling his country, in bringing it together.
Once again, I want to show him on this state visit that France can, in many ways, ensure the exemplary cooperation Tunisia expects of France.
Cooperation on security and the fight against terrorism. We’ve already begun this policy together, several months ago, and we’ll step it up, particularly as regards the security of the Tunisian border and exchange of intelligence information.
Economic and financial cooperation; we’re going to convert €60 million of debt and, going beyond the actual sum of money, this shows what can sometimes conceivably be achieved, in matters of finance, because this debt conversion will allow projects to be financed. (…)
But France must do more than that. It must mobilize Europe, mobilize the international community in support of Tunisia, and President Essebsi will have the opportunity to participate in the G7, at Chancellor Merkel’s invitation, so that, precisely, we can make deeds match what was said at the G8 when Tunisia experienced the revolution.
We want cooperation to be exemplary when it comes to culture as well. The two ministers signed an agreement and we’re going to promote what constitutes a treasure common to us both. Firstly, our museums, and I want to express strong support for the Bardo Museum, hit by the terrorist attack, which is one of the finest museums in the world. I daren’t say the finest, because we’ve got other museums in France as well, but we’ve got cooperation here too which is going to be exemplary. And also as regards [artistic] creation, cultural diversity and the values that culture promotes, especially those of equality between women and men, and also freedom.
Academic cooperation as well; 15,000 Tunisians come here to study – following the path you took, Mr President, a few years ago. We want to cooperate not just on quantity, student numbers, but also quality, on the undertaking of very high level studies and scientific cooperation. Moreover, we’re succeeding in doing this with the mutual recognition of qualifications.
Then there’s economic and tourism cooperation, insofar as French companies already have a strong presence in Tunisia; not only will they continue to have, but they will further increase their investments. As regards tourism, we’ve every confidence in Tunisia’s tourism industry, which is of huge value for Tunisians and for all visitors to Tunisia. We also discussed international issues together and will continue doing so over the course of this state visit, especially regarding what message we can convey in Libya – reconciling, bringing together all the splinter groups so there can be a transition which can take place there too. We obviously also talked about the situation in Syria and Iraq and issues relating to peace in Palestine. In short, we’ve got all these subjects in common and we’re addressing them together. We are two countries linked by history, two friends, two countries which want to act together not only for the region, the Mediterranean, but for the world (…)./.