Ms President, Honourable Members,
Tunisia is our close neighbour and partner, c’est un pays voisin, lié avec l’Europe par une multitude de liens forgés au long de l’histoire, mais elle se trouve dans une situation préoccupante.
The extension and unprecedented exceptional measures confirming, among others, the suspension of the Parliament – not the cancelling of the Parliament, which would be clearly unconstitutional, but the suspension - and the deep socio-economic crisis, which the COVID-19 pandemic has worsened, are increasingly raising apprehension among us and among all main international partners.
[...] Immediately after President [Kaïs] Saïed suspended the Parliament – suspended, not cancelled, but a permanent and non-ending suspension can be something similar to cancelling it - the European Union expressed its position through the Declaration that I issued on behalf of all Member States on 27 July. I then reached out to President Saïed when I visited Tunisia and had a long and frank discussion with him in early September – so, as you can see, I have been following very closely the events in this country - and we spoke again last Friday over the phone. I was in the United States, but nevertheless I wanted to have a phone call with him to talk about the consequences of the decree and the formation of a government. As you may have seen, I went public on the key messages that I conveyed, and the President did the same.
[...] For a certain time, there has not been a Prime Minister and the recent appointment of a new one, Madame Nalja Bouden Romdhane, is certainly a positive step, but the power of this government is a different one from the previous one that was dismissed by the President. The establishment of a functioning government is certainly crucial to immediately start tackling the many challenges that Tunisia faces. And we have to salute this event.
However, it is crucial - for the country’s future, and its domestic and international credibility - that the President and the Tunisian authorities at all levels fully restore the constitutional and institutional order, including the Parliamentary activity - the Parliament cannot stay closed indefinitely - and that they set a clear timetable for its reopening.
I have to mention that the Parliamentarians have been sent home, lost their immunity, lost their salary and lost their activity. So, the Parliament has to restore its activities.
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