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Calmy-Rey : Switzerland is ready to support Tunisia's democratic transition

Published the:  02/05/2011

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May 2, 2011 – TAP  - "Switzerland is ready to support Tunisia on the way of democratic transition", said on Monday President of the Swiss Confederation Micheline Calmy-Rey, who is on a visit in Tunisia to chair the regional conference of Swiss ambassadors and heads of co-operation offices.
"We wished to hold this conference here, in Tunisia, to show our friendship and our admiration for the Tunisian people for what they had bravely accomplished", said Mrs. Calmy-Rey after her meeting in Carthage with Interim President Foued Mebazaa.
Reviewing the relations binding the two countries, the Swiss Confederation President said her country had had "difficult relations with the former regime", welcoming the fact that "these relations improved and intensified after the Tunisian Revolution".
She reminded that "Switzerland praised the Tunisian Revolution and took immediate measures to freeze the assets" of the deposed President and his relatives.
The talk with Interim President Mebazaa, she said, had offered the opportunity to address the important issue of freezing assets, as well as "Switzerland's likely role in supporting the electoral process" in Tunisia.
Economic co-operation, its different aspects and instruments were also central items of the talk, the Swiss President added.
She reviewed, in this regard, the agreements signed between the two countries, particularly the investment protection agreement, the non-double taxation agreement and different commercial agreements.
The point, she also added, is to increase the flow of Swiss tourists to Tunisia and boost scientific and technical co-operation to encourage Swiss investments in the country's disadvantaged regions.
Foreign Affairs Minister Mouldi Kefi, who had earlier conferred with Mrs. Calmy-Rey, said, in reply to a journalist's question, that Switzerland, "a friendly country that has a democratic tradition several centuries old", has an important role to play in backing up Tunisia's democratic transition process.
"We have just started this process, and it is going to be a long apprenticeship," the Foreign Minister said, underlining that Tunisians are today "happy and proud to be part of the elite of countries that share such values as democracy, free speech and multiparty system".
He expressed hope that Switzerland and other countries "will help us boost employment in disadvantaged areas", particularly for university graduates, "which will represent a significant contribution to anchoring democracy".