News from Berlin
German Foreign Minister Meets Tunisia’s Prime Minister in Berlin
June 19th, 2014
News from Berlin - Frank-Walter Steinmeier met Mehdi Jomaâ in Berlin this Thursday June 19th to discuss the future of Tunisia and German-Tunisian relations. The continuation of the democratic process and economic development were the main themes of discussion. Steinmeier highlighted at the end of his speech that Tunisia can fully count on Germany’s help to achieve these goals.
Tunisia has already made some big steps towards democracy. Germany’s foreign minister mentioned Article 20 of the new Tunisian constitution, which states that Men and Women are equal, and that everyone has the right to social rights like health and education and access to water, as well as the right to work. Furthermore, freedom of assembly and freedom of expression are now part of the new constitution, which was approved in January 2014, with a “yes rate” of 90% by the Tunisian MP’s. This led to a huge jump in the Bertelsmann Transformation Index, which ranks democratisation in developing countries. Tunisia went from being ranked 100th in 2012 to 64th in 2014 – the highest climb in the whole ranking.
When asked why Tunisia was able to democratise, when surrounding countries which went through Arabic Spring revolution were not, Prime Minister Jomaâ said that there has been a long tradition of civil society in Tunisia. In addition to this, after the collapse of Ben Ali’s regime, Tunisia invested massively in education. Tunisia’s new main political parties, the islamic Ennhada and the conservative Nida Tunis, seemed to have learnt from mistakes made in Egypt. Instead of fighting each other they set aside their differences to cooperate and achieve the common goal of democracy. They formed a huge national dialogue with not only their parties but other smaller parties, as well as trade unions and organisations of the civil society. Only this way Jomaâ pointed out, could the 90% approval of the new constitution be achieved, the power was put into the people’s hands.
There are still some huge challenges for Tunisia, such as creating 200,000 jobs a year in order to achieve the target of 6% economic growth, especially fighting youth unemployment of 18%. To help Tunisia achieve this, Germany offered it’s cooperation. The BMZ, the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development offered a 250 million euro investment program, which will be focused on enhancing infrastructure in poorer regions of Tunisia and fighting youth unemployment. The German Foreign Ministry will also cooperate with Tunisia by creating more than 100 projects in all kinds of domains to strengthen the democratic transition. Some of these projects involve cultural exchanges and educational exchanges between the two countries.
Not only Germany, but the whole EU is an important partner for Tunisia as 70% of Tunisia’s imports come from the EU and 80% of their exports go to the EU. The warm atmosphere and great respect the two politicians showed to each other, gives us reasons to believe that the planned projects will successfully enhance the relationship of the two countries and help Tunisia in its path towards democracy.
News from Berlin – Berlin Global