ROME: Italy is “very concerned” about the political turmoil in Tunisia, and has urged Tunisian authorities to respect the constitution and “allow the legitimately elected parliament to carry out its duties.”
During questions in the Italian Senate attended by Arab News, Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio told senators that he had spoken to Tunisian Foreign Minister Othman Jerandi and issued “an appeal to moderation, so that every initiative is taken to avoid clashes and violence there.”
“Jerandi assured me that the constitution will be respected, and confirmed that President Kais Saied is carrying out consultations to appoint a new prime minister shortly. Right after that, the Parliament will promptly restart its work,” he said.
Referring to Saied’s dismissal of the prime minister and key cabinet members, and the 30-day suspension of parliament, Di Maio added: “The situation in Tunisia causes strongly concerns us. We are following with the utmost attention effects of the decisions taken by President Saied,”
The foreign minister stressed that in the hours following Saied's decision, “we immediately gave a strong (signal) to spark a coordinated action with our main European partners, as we believe that the EU can and should carry out a decisive role in this phase.”
Di Maio spoke on the phone with the EU High Representative Josepp Borrell on July 26, and with French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian the following day. “We all decided to stay permanently in touch and to send a strong and unanimous appeal to the Tunisian institutions for responsibility and respect for democracy and the rule of law,” including allowing the legitimately elected parliament "to perform its duties.”
The latest developments came, he said, “at a very complicated moment for Tunisia, a country already gripped by a very serious economic crisis” which the COVID-19 pandemic has only made worse.
Di Maio also offered assurances that Italy will support Tunisia in its discussions with the International Monetary Fund over a new financial-aid program, which he described as “a fundamental step to allow the implementation of the necessary economic reforms.”
Italy will also send further medical aid to Tunisia to help combat COVID-19. On top of the five containers of medical supplies and donations for the purchase of oxygen generators for Tunisian hospitals already given to Tunis in the past weeks, Italy will soon donate vaccines, he explained.
“We will not fail to support a people we have always been friends with, as we are sharing a common destiny,” Di Maio said.