Remarks by Ambassador Rubinstein at MEPI Local Grants Kick-Off Ceremony

Formal Remarks

MEPI Local Grants Kick-Off Ceremony

October 6, 2017

Good morning everyone, I am delighted to be here to participate in this very special occasion.  I want to take a moment to thank Minister Ben Gharbia Minister for Relations with Constitutional Bodies, Civil Society and Human Rights, our local partners from around the country, our guests from Morocco, and all of you for taking the time to join us in this ceremony.

The projects we are launching today focus on two crucial areas: spurring job growth, and encouraging civic engagement and voter awareness.  I cannot emphasize enough the absolute importance of working to continue to create new jobs.  We all know that the economic and social prospects of Tunisian youth need to improve, and the United States is totally committed to continuing our partnership with those who are working tirelessly toward that goal.  I am particularly encouraged that the majority of the economic-focused projects represented here today will be working in regions of Tunisia with the greatest need for new opportunities and growth.

Looking to elections, the United States is proud to support this most fundamental aspect of being a democracy.  Tunisia’s municipal elections are a critical component of its ongoing democratic transition, as laid out in the Constitution, and the first step to decentralization, giving citizens, men and women, more power to determine the laws and systems that affect them at the local level.  We especially understand the importance that the Tunisian people place on achieving this still-pending milestone, and we commit to supporting this democratic priority.

MEPI has a long history of supporting the development of nascent civil society in Tunisia, and also serving as a catalyst for CSOs to pilot new approaches to solving social, political, and economic challenges.  While MEPI provides the overarching goals of our grant programs – spurring economic development and democratic consolidation — it really is the initiative, ideas, dedication, and creativity of civil society and citizens that determine what these projects will actually do and how they will be implemented.  And we are so impressed with the amazing dedication and effectiveness that we have seen in our partners’ work in Tunisia in recent years.

I look forward to signing the grants for each of the eight projects represented here today, and I wish you all great success in working to achieve your project goals and in moving the Tunisian story forward.

Thank you for your attention!