The members of the European Parliament's Committee on Foreign Affairs (AFET) who were due to visit Tunisia on September 14-16 "did not coordinate beforehand with the official Tunisian authorities," said a source of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA). In a statement to TAP, the same source explained that members of the European Parliament's Committee on Foreign Affairs (AFET) had been due to visit Tunisia on September 14-16, but that there had been no prior coordination with the official authorities, as required by established international custom for the organisation of visits by foreign delegations. Such visits are regularly coordinated in advance with the official authorities of the host countries, particularly with regard to the date of the visit, the composition of the delegation and the work programme. This approach, the same source indicated, is "completely unacceptable" and contravenes international standards, considering that it is an unjustified "provocation," and that Tunisia will never be an arena for the settling of scores between different foreign political sides. Tunis, for its part, has never sent parliamentary delegations to inspect or assess the situation in any country in the world, the same source pointed out. "Tunis is keen to maintain excellent relations with the European Parliament and to further consolidate them, in view of the major role played by this institution within the European Union." The same source recalled the recent exchange of several visits by Tunisian and European parliamentary delegations, which, it said, testifies to the shared commitment to pursue a positive and constructive dialogue based on mutual respect and without interference in the country's domestic affairs. The MOFA source recalled the numerous visits made by European parliamentary delegations to Tunisia over the past period, including those of MEP Manfred Weber, Chairman of the European People's Party group (the largest group in the European Parliament), and the Green Party delegation, in addition to the forthcoming missions scheduled by parliamentary delegations from European Union member States. The same source added that among the members of the parliamentary delegation due to travel to Tunisia are MEPs known for their "hostile positions towards Tunisia" and for their "partisan and non-objective remarks about Tunisia, the choices of its people and its institutions." The Tunisian authorities refused to receive this delegation and asked the European side, via the European Union mission in Tunisia and the Tunisian embassy in Brussels, to change the composition of the delegation and include more objective MEPs, the same source said. The same source specified that the concerned sides had agreed on the same composition of the parliamentary delegation. Besides, the delegation's programme of visits had not included a meeting with the Minister of Foreign Affairs, as had been the case during their previous visits to Tunisia, the same source added. Tunis was constraint to declare that the members of the delegation "are not welcome on Tunisian territory." The source also reaffirmed Tunisia's willingness to carry on constructive dialogue with the European Parliament on the basis of mutual respect, reiterating its total rejection of any interference in its domestic affairs, while insisting on respect for the choices of its people. Five members of the European Parliament's Committee on Foreign Affairs were refused entry to Tunisia on Thursday. The purpose of the visit, according to a European Parliament press release, is to assess the current political situation in the country (...) and to take stock of the migration agreement signed in mid-July between the European Union and Tunisia.
Source: Agence Tunis Afrique Presse