Brussels/London, April 5, 2012
CEPR parliamentarian delegation visits Tunisia
The Council for European Palestinian Relations (CEPR) led a delegation, consisting of national and European parliamentarians, to assess the political situation in Tunisia one year after the revolution.
As Chair of the delegation, Lord Alderdice stated that they were "hugely impressed and encouraged by the progress made in the democratic transition of the country."
From March 31 – April 3, the CEPR delegation met with the Tunisian President, Moncef Marzouki, as well as the Human Rights Minister, plus the leaders of the main political parties, and youth representatives.
Delegates raised the following key issues during their visit: the transition to democracy, economic challenges facing the country, the role of Islam in politics, and Tunisia's position in international relations.
Focusing on re-building Tunisia, international and Tunisian delegates expressed their support for Palestinian statehood and restoring Palestinian rights. Leaders of the opposition Democratic Progressive Party said that the "previous administration did not do enough to help the Palestinians".
Ennahda Party members said they were holdind meetings with Fatah and Hamas to help encourage national reconciliation efforts. President of Ennahda, Rached Ghannouchi, said: "democracy will be the answer to the whole region... there is no other way."
While Tunisia faces considerable economic problems – exacerbated by a fall in tourism and instability following the revolution – all delegates remarked on the overall sense of optimism for Tunisia's future.
In his closing remarks with President Marzouki, Lord Alderdice emphasized the role played by Tunisians in sparking the Arab protests and claimed that: "regardless of whether or not Tunisia wishes to be a model for others, it is!"
The 2012 CEPR delegation to Tunisia:
Lord John Alderdice – House of Lords, UK
Dr. Phil Bennion – Member of European Parliament
Baroness Jane Bonham-Carter – House of Lords, UK
Mr. Pádraig Mac Lochlainn – Teachta Dála, Ireland
Mr. Gerald Nash – Teachta Dála, Ireland
Mr. Rareş-Lucian Niculescu – Member of European Parliament
Mr. Adrian Radut – Political Advisor
Ms. Clare Short – Former Secretary of State for International Development, UK
Dr. Arafat Shoukri – Council for European Palestinian Relations (CEPR)
Mr. Drew Smith – Member of Scottish Parliament
Mr. James Tuite – Council for European Palestinian Relations (CEPR)
Mr. Humza Yousaf – Member of Scottish Parliament
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