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Tunisia

Volume 587: debated on Wednesday 5 November 2014

I thank the Minister for that answer. As I am sure he will recognise, last week’s welcome election result showed that Tunisia, where the Arab spring started, is a beacon of hope in the region. Will his Department prioritise support for Tunisia, to help it to make further progress and provide a working example of how real change can take place in that region?

I entirely endorse the right hon. Gentleman’s description of the progress Tunisia has made, and it is important that we keep that progress going. We have spent some £10 million in Tunisia since 2011, the European Union has a budget of €169 million this year, and there is money from the International Monetary Fund and other sources. We will continue to watch this brief.

Some excellent work has been done to support politics in Tunisia, particularly by an organisation called Forward Thinking. I hope that that would come within the remit of the Department’s funding scheme.

There are particular issues affecting the people of Tunisia that do not affect other north African countries. Does the Minister agree that we should build on bilateral relationships between Tunisia and the UK, and strengthen those links between the two nations?

I agree with the hon. Gentleman, and we are straining to do that. Principally, Tunisia is very close to Libya, and that presents a significant difficulty.