The Netherlands shows its support for transition process in Tunisia

Minister of Foreign Affairs Uri Rosenthal was in Tunis yesterday to meet the prime minister and foreign minister of the Tunisian interim government. He assured them of the Netherlands’ support for the transition process in Tunisia, and underscored the importance of fair and free elections.

Mr Rosenthal spoke to interim prime minister Béji Caïd Essebsi about the impact of the recent developments in the Arab region. He stressed the importance of modernising the economy, of democracy, and of strengthening the rule of law and observing human rights. He asked in particular for attention to the position of women. The Netherlands is currently working on a transition programme for the Arab region, and also wishes to contribute to the process of change through EU channels.

To provide Tunisia with economic support, the Netherlands is urging better access to EU markets for its agricultural products. Mr Rosenthal also pointed to the risk of brain drain, given the recent surge of migrants from Tunisia heading for the EU. Structural economic growth and more employment in the region are needed to prevent illegal migration.

Mr Rosenthal also had talks with interim foreign minister Mouldi Kefi on the human rights situation in Tunisia, the situation in neighbouring Libya, and the Middle East peace process. He also discussed opportunities for awarding scholarships to students, and a training programme for Tunisian diplomats.

Finally, Mr Rosenthal met representatives of civil society in Tunisia. They included representatives of NGOs, as well as journalists and academics. He talked to them about human rights, freedom of expression and association, the position of NGOs and microcredit programmes.