Kerry, Tunisian Minister Marzouk on U.S.-Tunisia Agreement

Office of the Spokesperson
Washington, D.C.

Secretary of State John Kerry And Tunisian Minister for Political Affairs Mohsen Marzouk

Blair House

MODERATOR: His Excellency Mohsen Marzouk, Minister-Advisor in Charge of Political Affairs, and the Honorable John Kerry, Secretary of State, will now sign a Memorandum of Understanding between the Republic of Tunisia and the United States of America.(The Memorandum of Understanding was signed.)(Applause.)

SECRETARY KERRY: Thank you, sir.

MINISTER MARZOUK: Thank you. (Inaudible) I think it’s an important moment in the history of the Tunisian-American relationship, and 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.

The President Beji Caid Essebsi, perspectives that he’s offering to the relationship 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.So thank you very much.

And I think that we can, after signing this Memorandum of Understanding, have a lot of confidence in the future of Tunisia, but in the future also of our relationship.

SECRETARY KERRY: Thank you very much, my friend. I’m very, very pleased to welcome the Minister of Political Affairs, Mr. Marzouk, and also President Essebsi, who is witnessing this together with other members of the Tunisian Government that we’re very pleased to welcome here to Washington for a couple of days to visit. We’ve just had a very constructive meeting, and he will meet tomorrow – the president will meet with Vice President Biden and others, and we will discuss the future road.

But what we are signing here today is a reflection of our respect for and our investment in the extraordinary transformation that is taking place as a result of last year’s election in Tunisia, 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. 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.

By signing this memorandum of understanding we are making clear America’s commitment to support Tunisia’s democratic transition, and that backing is not solely in words. This document reflects the breadth and the depth of the commitment that we are making. Our cooperation and our assistance will cover a wide range of programs and areas of regional economic development, of security, people-to-people ties. And the provisions of this memorandum will also strengthen respect for rule of law and build capacity for rule of law, human rights, and social and political inclusion; and it will bolster a country leadership team that has really been steadfast in its support of Tunisia’s remarkable democratic progress.

So Mr. Minister, thank you for being here. And Mr. President, we are honored by your presence and by the leadership currently being offered in Tunisia. We look forward to working with you to grow this memorandum into a relationship that everybody will understand by virtue of what they see in Tunisia and what they see in the friendship between our countries. And you are a very welcomed guest indeed. Thank you, sir. (Applause.)