3 July 2012

Tunisia: Congressman David Dreier - 'I Am Even More Optimistic About Tunisia's Future'

Tunis — Republican David Dreier, member of the US House of Representatives, said, on Tuesday, he was "even more optimistic today" about Tunisia's future than before, "seeing the way the Tunisians are capable to sort out their disputes."

During a meeting with the press at the American Embassy in Tunis, Mr. Dreier reasserted his country's readiness to support Tunisia's democratic transition and share with the Tunisian leaders and people its experience.

Mr. Dreier, who is paying his second visit in Tunisia since the outbreak of the Revolution, is leading a delegation of six Democratic and Republican congressmen.

This delegation of American legislators met with members of the National Constituent Assembly (NCA) as well as President Marzouki and senior Tunisian officials.

"We discussed with the NCA members the issues of women's rights in Tunisia, role of minorities and role of the government at different levels," he said.

"The Tunisian people should decide on their own about their future," he emphasised, underlining that it is not a matter of imposing the democratic model made in America on the Arab Spring countries, but share the American experience with those who wish so.

"Democracy is a process in constant progress. The United States of America does not know how democracy is made. We are always learning, and we make mistakes" he said.

David Dreier also chairs the House Democracy Partnership, a partnership group which collaborates with 17 emerging democracies in the world. "This partnership is aimed to boost the legislative body in these new democracies, given that parliamentarians are closer to the people and potentially the most capable to react to the citizens' expectations," he explained.

In this connection, Mr. Dreier expressed will to establish a collaboration between the House Democracy Partnership and the next Tunisian parliament to be elected next Spring.

"We are perfectly aware of the challenges that the average Tunisian citizen faces," he pointed out, citing in particular the issues of unemployment and poverty."

This is why the most important thing for us," he went on saying, "is to help Tunisia meet its people's expectations."

"We wish to see Tunisia succeed because we believe in self-determination, the authority of law, political pluralism, development of the democratic institutions and creation of opportunities for all, this is why we are inspired by what Tunisia is accomplishing today," he commended.

In this same context, Congressman Dreier said that "at Prime Minister Hamadi Jebali's request, during the last Davos Forum," he presented to the Chamber of Representatives a draft outline agreement of free trade between Tunisia and the United States which will result, if adopted, in a free flow of goods and services between the two countries.

"The enforcement of the agreement could take some time, but the idea to start discussions as of today is a strong message to the Tunisian people that the Americans wish to boost trade exchanges and help improve the level and the quality of life of the Tunisians."

As regards the controversial extradition of former Libyan PM Baghdadi Mahmoudi, Mr. Dreier refused to comment on what he described as "an internal decision."

The meeting was attended by American Ambassador Gordon Gray, whose mission in Tunisia ends in the few coming days.

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