News / Middle East

Tunisian President in France to Repair Ties

Tunisian President Moncef Marzouki
Tunisian President Moncef Marzouki
Lisa Bryant
PARIS — Tunisia's President Moncef Marzouki is in France, in a new drive to repair relations with its former colonial power. Marzouki also will be seeking closer business ties that are key to turning around his country's ailing economy.

Tunisians have not forgotten France's longtime support for the regime of former dictator Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali. Or that former French foreign minister Michele Aliot-Marie last year offered help to Tunisian police cracking down on pro-democracy demonstrators.

But experts like Steven Ekovich, political science professor at the American University of Paris, say the three-day visit of Tunisian President Moncef Marzouki marks a new page in Tunisian-French relations.

"He's here to… reignite positive relations," said Ekovich. "Tunisia needs good relations with France - it's unavoidable. The primary European partner of Tunisia is France. Tunisia can't do without France. Good relations are absolutely necessary."

This is not the first high-level visit here since Tunisia's 2011 revolution. The country's interim prime minister attended last year's G8 meeting in Normandy to seek international assistance. Prime Minister Hamadi Jabali, of the leading Islamist Ennahda party, has also visited.

But it helps that Marzouki will be starting over with a new French government. He holds talks with President Francois Hollande and other top officials - including the mayor of Paris, Bertrand Delanoe, who was born in Tunisia. Besides politics, economics are certain to be up for discussion as Tunisia continues to battle high unemployment and a sluggish economy.

France is a leading investor in the North African nation, with about 1,200 French companies doing business there. French tourists are also going back, but in fewer numbers than before the revolution.

"The tourists are a little skittish about the security situation," said Steven Ekovich. "And if there's a fear there might be some sort of extremist Islam of course, of course that's not going to help tourism. If French women feel they can't wear their bikinis on the beach, that will dampen tourism as well."

Marzouki was a leading dissident and human rights activist during the Ben Ali years. He has clashed with Prime Minister Jebali, most recently over the extradition of Libya's former prime minister, calling it "illegal."

In a recent interview with Radio France Internationale, Marzouki said that he and Jebali had decided to wipe the slate on the disagreement. He also wants to repatriate state funds that Tunisia says Ben Ali stashed abroad, including in Swiss bank accounts.

You May Like

Diplomats Work to Extend Arab-Israeli Cease-Fire

Top officials from the US, France, Britain, Germany, Italy, Turkey and Qatar gather in Paris, while Israel security forces continue searching for tunnels used by militants and Gazan rescue workers search for bodies More

Photogallery US Defense Department Warns of Arms to Eastern Ukraine

‘Imminent’ delivery of Russian rocket launcher poses threat to civilians, US says More

Video Researchers: Africa Genetically Modified Crops Held Back by Scaremongering

GM crops offer best hope of increasing productivity and coping with climate change in Africa, according to co-author of Chatham House report More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: sam from: Accra
July 18, 2012 7:22 AM
France supported Ben Ali, while the US supported Mobutu and still supports the Ancien regime in Saudi Arabia. why are they condemning Russia for supporting Assad?


by: Nicole from: France
July 17, 2012 12:52 PM
as soon as you have done with him... send him back to Islamic Africa... NO MORE ISLAM IN EUROPE

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Astronauts Train in Underwater Labi
X
George Putic
July 25, 2014 7:25 PM
In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Not Even Monks Spared From Thailand’s Junta-Backed Morality Push

With Thailand’s military government firmly in control after May’s bloodless coup, authorities are carrying out plans they say are aimed at restoring discipline, morality and patriotism to all Thais. The measures include a crackdown on illegal gambling, education reforms to promote students’ moral development, and a new 24-hour phone hotline for citizens to report misbehaving monks. Steve Sandford reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Virtual Program Teaches Farming Skills

In a fast-changing world beset by unpredictable climate conditions, farmers cannot afford to ignore new technology. Researchers in Australia are developing an online virtual world program to share information about climate change and more sustainable farming techniques for sugar cane growers. As VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports, the idea is to create a wider support network for farmers.
Video

Video Airline Expert: Missile will Show Signature on Debris

The debris field from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is spread over a 21-kilometer radius in eastern Ukraine. It is expected to take investigators months to sort through the airplane pieces to learn about the missile that brought down the jetliner and who fired it. VOAs Carolyn Presutti explains how this work will be done.
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

AppleAndroid