REMARKS BY AMBASSADOR RUBINSTEIN
CEREMONY FOR THE ARRIVAL OF 65’ PATROL BOATS
TO THE MINISTRY OF DEFENSE
Thank you for the warm welcome. It is a great honor to be here with you, Minister Horchani, Amiral ATALLAH, assembled officers, Contre Amiral ATALLAH, assembled officers and sailors of the Tunisian Navy, and honored guests at this important event to celebrate the arrival of new boats for the Tunisian Navy and to mark once again the close partnership between our two countries and our two navies.
The boats on display here are the latest of a series of 26 boats that were first ordered in 2012. Starting this summer, 13 radar stations along the Tunisian coasts will be equipped with new costal radars which will reinforce the presence of the Tunisian navy and improve its capabilities in Tunisia’s territorial waters.
I look forward to Tunisia’s support and participation in Exercise Phoenix Express 17 this spring – a naval exercise attended by over a dozen Mediterranean navies that will take place in the western Mediterranean. This exercise will focus on conducting regional maritime interdictions and law enforcement operations in accordance with international maritime law, Maritime Domain Awareness, and informational sharing capabilities.
These boats, radar stations, training, and exercises represent a clear picture of the strong US commitment to standing with Tunisia at sea, as Tunisia f
ights terrorism, and assists in the management of unprecedented migrant flows across the Mediterranean. At the same time, these efforts and systems will enable Tunisia to better police its fisheries and guarantee the safety of maritime traffic through a close point of approach between North Africa and Europe.
More broadly, these boats represent just one facet of our security cooperation, of which we are already seeing the fruit in the recent successes of the courageous Tunisian security forces in their counter-terrorism efforts. I can assure you that the U.S. stands together with Tunisia at this critical time, and we are determined to give Tunisia the tools and assistance to help it defeat and deter terrorism.
In the coming year, we will assist Tunisia not only at sea, but on land with the installation of a border security system on Tunisia’s eastern border, and the provision of equipment and training to identify and counter improvised explosive devices, and in the air with training and equipment to allow the Tunisian Air Force to better integrate and operate in conjunction with its land forces.
I am grateful for our strong and sincere partnership with the Tunisian Government, and let me once again thank you Minister Horchani, Contre Amiral ATALLAH, and the other officials of the Tunisian Navy and Ministry of National Defense for your cooperation. I would also like to recognize the brave men and women of the Tunisian Armed Forces who on this day, and every day, are dauntlessly defending Tunisia and its democracy.