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A meeting with the press of British Foreign Secretary

Published the:  08/02/2011

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February  8, 2011 - TAP - "I came here to show the United Kingdom's support to the people of Tunisia, at this decisive stage of its history, as it is striving to determine its own future and freely exercise democratic rights", British Foreign Secretary William Hague said, in a meeting with the press, on Tuesday in Tunis.
"This change has long been wished for and it has been brought about by the Tunisian people who called on their leaders to respond to their economic and political aspirations.
We commend the interim government for having lent a listening ear to the people's concerns and launched an important reform process," he underlined.
The British Foreign Secretary, who had met on Tuesday morning Prime Minister Mohamed Ghannouchi and Planning and International Co-operation Minister Nouri Jouini, said that talks had turned on the key reforms started by Tunisia in this transition period.
The meeting with the Prime Minister had helped discuss "the vital elections to be held this year", he stressed, asserting that it is clearly important, in the eyes of the world, that these elections be "free, transparent and democratic".
Besides, Mr. Hague said that the meetings had provided the opportunity to raise the issue of human rights "which represents a crucial component of the reform process".
"We commended the Tunisian government's decision to ratify important international conventions, in this sense, notably the optional protocol against torture", he pointed out.
He added that the meetings had also centred on the prospects for promoting Tunisia's relations with Great Britain and the European Union, "relations which, we hope, will be further developed in the years to come", he stressed.
"Great opportunities have come into being here, in Tunisia; such opportunities that should be seized, rather than feared," the British Foreign Secretary argued, asserting his country's "readiness to work with the government and civil society, to support economic development and promote broader political openness". "Great Britain will be a strong friend of the Tunisian people who has started a new stage in its history", he asserted, adding that "the eyes of the whole world are on you, sharing with you your ambitions".
In this connection, he announced that Great Britain has created an Arab Partnership Fund, a body that provides assistance to civil society, state institutions and individuals in Tunisia and other countries striving to establish greater openness and political participation, to consecrate the citizens' rights and develop independent institutions, "all these are key factors for building up a stable, prosperous and democratic society".
Furthermore, he pointed out that "it is by no means Great Britain's responsibility, or any other country's, to dictate or determine the approach or the nature of the change for the region," asserting, on the contrary, that his country supports liberties and the universal democratic values which are essential to the edification of a democratic society, "an aim which the Tunisian people is pursuing with great passion." Answering the journalists' questions, Mr. Hague asserted he had found among the Tunisian government "an earnest determination" to move forward during this period of transition.
He underscored the importance to take appropriate decisions and carry out the necessary reforms to "increase the foreign investors' confidence and develop new partnership opportunities".
In conclusion, Mr. Hague reiterated Great Britain's readiness to offer its friendly assistance to Tunisia and deal with it on the bases that are dictated by the new situation.
He said "this point is to develop new co-operation opportunities," notably in the security and higher-education areas, "a co-operation that rests on shared values."