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European Council President Donald Tusk and High Representative/Commission Vice-President Federica Mogherini, accompanied by EU Counter-Terrorism Coordinator Gilles de Kerchove, will visit Tunisia on Tuesday 31 March to express the EU’s full solidarity with the Tunisian people and to explore ways to increase EU support for Tunisia.
The joint visit is part of a regional tour by Donald Tusk to discuss regional stability, illegal migration and terrorist threats.
Mr Tusk commented: ‘All Europeans have been affected by the attack on the Bardo, because through Tunisia, it is freedom and democracy which were targeted. The EU is more determined than ever to step up its cooperation with Tunisia in the face of this common terrorist threat and to further strengthen relations for the benefit of our peoples on both sides of the Mediterranean. At the same time, we must work together to address the root causes of regional instability and its consequences, such as irregular migration and terrorism.’
Ms Mogherini said: ‘Today “the world is Bardo” and I wholeheartedly stand by those who are marching against terrorism and for a free, open and democratic Tunisia. The reaction of Tunisians in the face of this ordeal confirms how strongly they feel about defending their democracy and the stability of Tunisia. It is the EU’s responsibility to continue supporting the construction of a strong Tunisian democracy capable of guaranteeing security, economic development and social progress for the benefit of all Tunisians. Our cooperation on security must be stepped up, but it is also by developing our cooperation and exchanges in all areas that we will offer real opportunities and future prospects to young people both in Tunisia and in Europe. Tunisia can count on the EU.’
Mr Tusk and Ms Mogherini will meet the President of Tunisia, Beji Caid Essebsi, the Prime Minister, Habib Essid, and the President of the Assembly of the Representatives of the People, Mohamed Ennaceur. They will also go to the Bardo Museum to pay tribute to the victims of the terrorist attack of 18 March, which left 21 people dead and many injured.
This visit follows the European Councils in February and March when the Heads of State or Government agreed to step up the fight against terrorism and to commit further to contributing to a political solution in Libya.
The visit also follows up Ms Mogherini's visit to Tunis on 13 February, and the EU-Tunisia Association Council meeting of 17 March, which addressed all the issues of the democratic transition in Tunisia, the socio-economic situation and the security challenges, in particular terrorism, which are faced both by Europe and by the countries of the Southern Mediterranean. On 17 March the EU and Tunisia signed a Protocol on the participation of Tunisia in Union programmes.
The European Council of 20 March stated that the European Union and its Member States ‘will intensify cooperation with Tunisia to counter this common terrorist threat, to strengthen Tunisia's promising democracy and to assist its economic and social development’.
Further to EU Counter-Terrorism Coordinator Gilles de Kerchove's visit to Tunis at the end of February, the EU is working with the Tunisian authorities to step up cooperation in the fight against the multiple aspects of terrorism, as part of its support for security sector reform and in accordance with the provisions of the new constitution as regards the rule of law and human rights.