May 20, 2015

The government of Tunisia and the United States Wednesday signed a Memorandum of Cooperation agreement to continue collaborating to improve leadership and democratic institutions in Tunisia and to build upon the Tunisia-U.S. relationship to bolster the two countries security and economy interests.

Tunisia’s Minister Adviser of Political Affairs Mohsen Marzouk, and Secretary John Kerry signed the agreement at the State Department. Tunisian President Beji Caid Essebsi and other Tunisian government officials and U.S. officials were in attendance during the signing.

President Beji Caid Essebsi, who is in the U.S. for a couple of days, will meet tomorrow with President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden and other Obama administration key officials at the White House.

Speaking shortly after the MOC was signed, Minister Marzouk said the signing of the agreement not only marks an important moment in the history of the Tunisia-U.S. relationship, it also gives it the confidence boost it needs to continue building upon that foundation/ partnership as they move forward and look to the future.

“We are really looking forward to implementing all the agreements that will really give the Tunisian-American relationship a new horizon and new perspectives that will lead this relationship to achieve now more concrete and practical collaboration and coordination in very difficult contexts at the regional level and international level,” said Marzouk.

He underscored this by noting that President Beji Caid Essebsi’s presence at the signing of the MOC also brings a new perspective and assurance to further empowers the Tunisia-U.S. relationship should there be any challenges encountered in the future.

“President Beji Caid Essebsi is empowering us and giving us the assurance that we are going to be in a situation where, if I meet all the challenges that our relationship would encounter, Tunisia is a democracy, is now a part of the club of democracies, and is seeking from its partners and the – all democracies and (inaudible) America not only support, but partnership,” he said.

The MOC reflects the U.S.’s commitment to support Tunisia’s democratic transition and bolster the country leadership team that has really been steadfast in its support of Tunisia’s remarkable democratic progress, and provide assistance in a wide range of programs and areas of regional economic development, of security, people-to-people ties, including strengthening respect for rule of law and build capacity for rule of law, human rights, and social and political inclusion.

Secretary Kerry, speaking after Minister Marzouk, reiterated that the signing of the MOU not only reflects United States’s respect for Tunisia, it’s also meant to reinforce U.S.’s investment in the democratic transformation that is taking place in the country as a result of last year’s election.

“The consensus government that has been created in Tunisia, which carries a very important message: that democratic institutions, while sometimes difficult in the transition and sometimes taking time in the transition, can succeed when they have courageous leadership and when they have compromise,” said Secretary Kerry. “And Tunisians have learned and taught a lot of other people that democracy is not easily won; it takes a lot of work. The horrific attack at the Bardo Museum on March 18th was an assault not only against the international visitors who were there, eager to experience Tunisia’s incredible hospitality and history and culture, but it was an attack against Tunisia itself and the desire of all of the citizens of Tunisia to build a solid, secure, democratic future.”

He said the U.S. looks forward to working to grow the memorandum into a relationship which “everybody will understand by virtue of what they see in Tunisia and what they see in the friendship between our countries.”

While in the nation’s capital, the Tusinia government will also meet and hold meeting with officials from the Department of Commerce to discuss economic and trade relations.

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