The situation of human rights raised by EU institutions

Speech delivered at the EP Plenary in Strasbourg by Commissioner for Equality, Helena Dalli, on behalf of HR/VP Josep Borrell

EEAS (15.03.2023) – Speech of Commissioner Helena Dalli on behalf of HR/VP Josep Borrell

“Thank you, President, Honourable Members [of the European Parliament], 

Thank you for giving me the opportunity to join this timely debate on Tunisia.  

The different interventions today have shown that we broadly share the analysis and the concern over the latest developments in Tunisia, an important partner and a close neighbour for the European Union. The arrests of prominent political, civil society, and media figures in the recent weeks are indeed worrying. 

So are some recent statements targeting the Sub-Saharan migrants in the country, which have already led to arrests, harassment and violence.  

These events contribute to a climate of growing internal tension and polarisation. Democracy, the Rule of Law, human rights and fundamental freedoms, including freedom of expression, are values that the people of Tunisia chose during the Jasmin Revolution in 2011. They also constitute the foundation of the EU’s partnership with Tunisia, in which the country’s vibrant and dynamic civil society also plays an important role. 

That is why we will continue to advocate for the preservation and consolidation of these values. We will equally keep insisting on an inclusive dialogue among the various forces in Tunisian society, so that a common project can emerge for the future of the country. That is the only way to ensure social cohesion and the sustainability of major, and urgently needed, reforms. 

At the same time, the economic situation in Tunisia is increasingly dire, with a direct impact on the life of Tunisians, who are suffering from inflation, scarcity of products, and high unemployment, especially among the young. The consequences of Russia’s aggression against Ukraine have hit Tunisia particularly hard and further aggravated the situation. 

Therefore, we must not turn our backs – of course – on the Tunisian people and show that we are standing by our partners when they need us most.  

The Foreign Affairs Council next week will also discuss the situation in Tunisia and chart a way forward for EU engagement with the country. As always, the European Parliament will be fully informed and we look forward to continuing the discussion with you. 

Thank you.”

Link to the video (starting from 18:33):