Two years after the revolution in Tunisia

Ali Gutali: “Russian-Tunisian relations are marked by new dynamics”

By Vestnik Kavkaza

Two years ago Tunisia was the country where the Arab Spring began, and a year ago local politicians stated on normalization of the situation in the state. Recently the ambassador of Tunisia Ali Gutali told journalists about the results of the revolution and the situation in the country today, He stated: “The elections took place on October 23, 2011. The parliament was elected. The order was given to develop a project of the new constitution, as the former constitution which was adopted in 1959 had been cancelled. Moreover, a transitional government was formed which included the party An Nahda, the party Congress for Republic and the party Takatul. As for the second part, a representative of the Congress party headed the government, and the current chairman of the parliament heads Takatul.

Regarding priorities for the current stage, firstly, it is development of the new constitution. “The Constitutional Council was elected for this purpose. We want the constitution be modern, open and meeting the demands and interests of the Tunisian people and the democratization of society,” the ambassador said.

Speaking about challenges which Tunisia faces, Gutali mentioned restoring safety and stability in the country: “Any revolution caused by protests and the demands of its participants is accompanied by riots. This happened in Tunisia too. However, the situation was fairly calm, and we had no serious problems. At the same time, some protest movements still exist. The government tries to control the situation in the country. We are working on establishing a comfortable investment climate in the country and returning investments. No doubt, this demands security and stability in the state. One of our challenges is paying compensation to families of killed revolutionaries, as well as unemployment, creating jobs. We are solving these important social problems at the moment. The problem of unemployment is very significant in Tunisia; first of all it concerns educated young people. 800 thousand unemployed people in Tunisia include 200 thousand people with higher education.”

“One more challenge is the balanced development of various regions of the country. We have developed a national strategy aimed at development of the regions in favour of the country’s interests. Other problems are control over prices and fighting poverty. The revolution caused certain disproportions, for example, high prices. Thus, the control over prices, especially on essential consumer goods, improvement of the service sphere and fighting corruption are necessary. We know that corruption was one of reasons for the revolution; the phenomenon had spread all over the country and damaged the whole economy.”

“To overcome the transitional period successfully and spread democracy, Tunisia should become a free country where revenues are allocated fairly. The government is ready to sign a social contract. It will happen on January 14th. These problems and their settlement will be written there – fighting unemployment, balanced development of the country, and so on. Moreover, a law on so-called “transitional justice” was adopted, as well as a law on responsibility of those who committed crimes. A Ministry of Justice was established, it is a transitional ministry. Certain measures are being taken on initiating criminal cases against people who were involved in corruption, as Tunisia would take a new path, a path of rational development.”

“Russian-Tunisian relations are marked by new dynamics after the revolution. This is confirmed by new meetings, consultations, and joint participation in various international forums which took place in Tunisia and Russia in 2012. For example, in 2012 we have held political consultations at the level of foreign ministries – they were held in Moscow. Moreover, we organized the Week of Tunisian culture in Moscow; it was a successful event. It was held in Moscow and St.-Petersburg. The event enables Russian citizens to learn about peculiarities of Tunisian culture, music, art, fine arts, cinema, and theatre. You know that Tunisia is a successor to the rich ancient civilization of Carthage; many ancient civilizations – Carthage, the Roman Empire, the Byzantine Empire, the Arab and Islamic civilizations are marked in the history of Tunisia. This year we will witness many meetings and events too. For example, the fifth session of the intergovernmental commission will be organized. It will take place next month in Tunisia. Moreover, the Week of Russian Culture will be organized in Tunisia, and Tunisia will learn about the riches of Russian culture and its heritage. Tunisia admires it. The Russian cultural centre in Tunisia is one of the most active cultural centres of Russia abroad. A session of the Russian-Tunisian business council will be held. It will be devoted to Russian-Tunisian partnership and investment opportunities of Russian partners who would like to work in the Tunisian market.

As for tourism, we are happy that the inflow of Russian tourists to our country is taking place. Last year we reached a record regarding Russian tourists who visited Tunisia. 250 thousand tourists from Russia visited our country; in 2010 there were 180 thousand of them. In two years the number grew by several thousand. The figures are promising; we hope the number of tourists will increase. It means not only inflow of foreign currency, but development of friendly relations between our countries. Our friendship will improve and develop, as such spheres enable us to learn about each other better and work together in various economic projects. Tourism is significant and multi-faceted from the point of view of positive results.”