Thursday, 3 March 2011

Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero placed Madrid in the first line of international support for the "historic" transition process in Tunisia

Day-by-day detail predictions of the Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero life at 2011Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero placed Madrid in the first line of international support for the "historic" transition process in Tunisia, offering a 300 million euro ($415.8 million) credit line to aid development in the North African nation.
Zapatero, the first European leader to travel to Tunis since the fall of the regime of Zine el Abidine Ben Ali, met with top officials of the transition government, the opposition and civil society to guarantee them Spain's support.
The most urgent matter for Tunis at this time is to attend to the thousands of international refugees who are crossing the frontier from Libya and Zapatero said that he is ready to mobilize aircraft and ships to transport them to their countries of origin.
At a press conference at the residence of the Spanish ambassador after meeting with Tunisian interim President Fuad Mebaza and Premier Beyi Said Essebsi, Zapatero said that Spain was the first country to send humanitarian aid to Tunis and noted that it has prepared a second airplane, which could be used to transport many of the refugees.
"We want to be there from the first moment and we want to be in the group of countries that supports with the greatest determination what is happening in the Arab world," Zapatero said.
"Each country makes its own history, each people builds its democracy and what is expected from friendly peoples is understanding and help. We're not going to say anything that suggests giving a lecture, but we're going to give all that we are asked for so that the Tunisians feel free," he said.
Along those lines, the Spanish premier pushed for the launching of a Marshall Plan-like initiative for North Africa with public support by European financial entities.
The financing from the European Union would be channeled through the European Investment Bank, which already has a credit facility of more than 12 billion euros for the development of the southern shore of the Mediterranean.
Each country should commit itself and Spain, Zapatero said, will authorize a credit line of 300 million euros over the next three years.
Zapatero said that the success of the Tunisian rebellion is going to spread through the region, including Libya, and he compared this "historic moment" with the fall of the Warsaw Pact regimes in Eastern Europe.
"Spaniards want their government to be supporting the democratic changes in the Arab world from the first, and so therefore I'm here," he said.
When asked about his support for similar processes in Algeria and Morocco, two countries geographically closer to Spain than Tunisia, the premier said that all European partners are prepared to back reforms that defend the citizenry, although they must avoid having their stance interpreted as "a desire to interfere."
As for the future of Tunisia, the Spanish leader urged that the country remain committed to secularism to achieve a lasting and "more authentic" democracy.

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