Turkey says Tunisia revolt could be model for others

ERCAN YAVUZ / SERVET YANATMA
TUNIS


Tunisia’s revolution could provide a model for other countries seeking reform if it can avoid pitfalls on the path to elections, Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davuto?lu said on Monday

A popular uprising in the North African state last month ended President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali’s 23 years of rule, sending shockwaves through the Arab world and inspiring a similar revolt in Egypt.
“Tunisia has a strong middle class and high levels of education,” Davuto?lu told reporters on a trip to Tunisia for meetings with the caretaker government.
Davuto?lu, whose country is currently chairing the Council of Europe, arrived in Tunisia on Monday with Council of Europe Secretary General Torbjorn Jagland to help Tunisia make smooth and peaceful transition to democratic rule, saying Tunisia’s peaceful transformation is important because it could set an example for other countries in the region.
The foreign minister said that the Council of Europe’s primary goal in Tunisia is to make it a “good model” for others in the area. “If the transformation is successful in Tunisia it can be a model for other countries,” Davuto?lu underlined. He said the interim government needed to make constitutional changes and set up institutions to ensure the rule of law for the poll, expected in July or August, to ensure that it passes smoothly.

Davuto?lu expressed concern over the strength of the caretaker government and said there are serious problems surrounding the effectiveness of the interim government. He said people filled the streets thanks to the Internet and Twitter, but to hold meaningful elections there needs to be well-organized parties.

He said those leading social transformations in the country are not experienced politicians but youth using Twitter. A process of “party establishment” is required, Davuto?lu said. “We moved to a multi-party system in Turkey in 1946 and our first elections were in 1950,” he said. “In Tunisia, there are risks because everything is happening so fast.”

Davuto?lu said Turkey’s goal is to recalibrate and position events across the Middle East as the result of a “domino effect” to a “right axis.” He said that since the events started in Tunisia, Tunisians showed that, as Arabs, they were able to express their demands through peaceful means and realize the transformation. The foreign minister said Turkey has mobilized all resources for Tunisia during its term as the Council of Europe president and that Turkey has chartered three stages for the country. Initially, pre-election adjustments must be made and elections should reflect the will of the people. Second, Davuto?lu said, strong institutions that protect human rights and democracy must be established immediately after elections. Davuto?lu said institutionalizing these structures should constitute the third stage.

North Africa’s smallest country, which relies heavily on tourism, has been relatively calm in recent weeks since the revolt, though sporadic protests over poverty and unemployment continue and crime rates have risen.

Tunisia’s revolution inspired Egypt’s uprising and has also encouraged mass demonstrations elsewhere in the Arab world, including in Libya, Bahrain, Yemen, Morocco, Kuwait, Algeria and Djibouti.


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