Saturday, January 29, 2011

EU: Statements by EU High Representative Catherine Ashton on Tunisia and Egypt

Catherine Ashton, the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice-President of the European Commission, today made the following statement on Tunisia:

"I spoke earlier today with the newly appointed Tunisian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Ahmed Ounaies.

I congratulated the Minister on his appointment and confirmed the EU's solidarity with the

Tunisian people in their efforts to build a stable and pluralistic democracy with full respect for the rule of law and fundamental rights and freedoms. I expressed the EU's hope that the transitional Government will be able to organize free and fair democratic parliamentary and presidential elections as soon as possible. I welcomed the liberation of political prisoners and I stressed that freedom of association and legalization of all political parties are key components for the transition.

I confirmed the EU's readiness to provide its assistance and expertise for the preparation and organization of the electoral process and political reforms. I underscored the need to help and empower the civil society. The EU will review and update its strategy and assistance. I also emphasized the EU's commitment to continue our economic cooperation and the need for investors to redouble their confidence in Tunisia.

Minister Ounaies and I agreed to meet in the coming days.

The Tunisian Foreign Minister welcomed the EU's engagement and the offer to accompany his country's transition towards democracy with assistance."

Regarding the situation in Egypt, High Representative Ashton stated:

"I have followed very closely and with profound concern the reports of increased violence, clashes and arrests during today's demonstrations in Egypt.

The continued use of force against demonstrators by police and state security forces is deeply troubling. In order to avoid further deterioration of the situation in Cairo and elsewhere in Egypt, and to avoid more casualties, I reiterate my call on all parties to exercise restraint and calm and I urge the authorities to immediately and unconditionally release all peaceful demonstrators from detention.

I also reiterate my call upon the Egyptian authorities to urgently establish a constructive and peaceful way to respond to the legitimate aspirations of Egyptian citizens for democratic and socioeconomic reforms.

I will discuss these developments with my colleagues in the Foreign Affairs Council meeting on Monday in Brussels."

SOURCE Delegation of the European Union to the United States