14/01/2011

Tunisia: an ambiguous French reaction

The social crisis that has shaken Tunisia for almost a month has undermined many myths put forward by the regime for 23 years, to build legitimacy inside and outside the country. The economic and social demands have shown that the economic miracle was a fragile window and that economic liberalization, praised by international organizations and Western countries, has in fact benefited only a fringe minority of society. The Tunisian regime, which has arrogated to itself throughout its reign the right to stifle all political freedoms and to cynically violate the rights of its population, still has been courted, in the name of a hypothetical fight against the advance of Islamism in North Africa and against illegal immigration, as a friendly and moderate regime by European countries, France, Spain and Italy first.
It must be said that these countries have many interests in the « near country ». Thus, France is one of the largest foreign investors in Tunisia and there are also strong historical ties between French and Tunisian politicians. The foreign policy of France towards Tunisia has always been to flatter those who have power and with whom they do juicy business. In order not to upset the Tunisian regime, France pretends not to see freedom violations and disregards, in this way, the people of Tunisia and its claims. Faced with the uprising and the violent repression of the regime, the proposal to strengthen security cooperation and the absence of unequivocal condemnation shows the denial of reality in which is folded France and the contempt for democratic values of which it is yet the doorflag in other parts of the world.
After the reaction of the United States occurred Friday, January 7, 2011 and a weekend characterized by bloody repression, the silence of the European Union and France have become embarrassing and was pointed out by many observers as a sign of complacency if not complicity. Nevertheless, the European Union had a reaction less ambiguous, although late probably due to pressure from Paris. Indeed, by demanding the release of protesters, by condemning the excesses of the regime but also by using its lobbying power, as the main donor of Tunisia under the European Neighbourhood Policy and by conditioning the Advanced status negotiations to political openness and respect for human rights in the country, the EU has been more respectful and listening to the popular movement and its claims.
Iman Bahri