Waldner: “New Tunisia – A role model for the Arab world”
Austrian State Secretary meets Tunisian State Secretary Abdouli
Vienna, 13 April 2012 – Today’s working meeting between Austrian State Secretary Wolfgang Waldner and his counterpart for European Affairs in the Tunisian Foreign Ministry, Touhami Abdouli, focused on the current developments in Tunisia and next steps to be taken in the political transition process after the overthrow of Ben Ali’s regime last year. “With the first free elections in October 2011 and the formation of a government of national unity, Tunisia’s first steps in its democratisation process were crowned by success. Tunisia is setting an example for the entire Arab region with its approach. When I visited Tunis at the end of February to attend the first meeting of the Friends of the Syrian People Group, I was able to see for myself the progress that has been made”, Waldner said after the meeting on Friday.
The State Secretary welcomed the most recent decision of the Constituent Assembly to refrain from incorporating the Sharia in the country’s constitution since this will prevent a division of society. “An important issue from the Austrian point of view is the preservation of the high standards achieved in minority and women's rights", the State Secretary underlined. This was one of the reasons why Austria offered financial support for the establishment of an office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in Tunisia.
State Secretary Waldner also inquired about the government’s plans in the socio-economic field. “In order to avoid social tension, it is very important to ensure that all parts of society are able to profit from growth and prosperity”, Waldner said. Other topics of the meeting were concrete options for cooperation between Austria and Tunisia, in tourism for example or in the field of renewable energies.
The exchange of visits between Vienna and Tunis has gained significant momentum since last year. Vice Chancellor Spindelegger is planning a bilateral visit in Tunis for May. “We support Tunisia on its way towards democracy and together with our partners in the EU we are ready to contribute our share to peace, stability and prosperity in the southern neighbourhood of Europe”, the State Secretary concluded.
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