‘Turkish democracy model for Tunisia’

‘Turkish democracy model for Tunisia’

ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
Tunisia wanted to benefit from the democratization experience of Turkey, Tunisia’s foreign minister said, stressing the Tunisian revolution has confirmed that Islam, Arabism and democracy were possible at the same time as Turkey had previously affirmed.

“The Turkish experience of process of democratization is the first experience in the region … Turkey is well equipped and well informed about the process of democratization. We really need to benefit from this experience,” Tunisian Foreign Minister Rafik Abdessalem said yesterday in a panel with his Turkish counterpart Ahmet Davutoğlu. They considered Turkey an example, since it was the first model of democratization in the region, Abdessalem said at a panel titled “Arab Spring, Tunisia and Turkey” of the Foundation for Political, Economic and Social Research (SETA), an Ankara-based think-tank. “Of course there are different interpretations of secularity,” he said. “Turkey is a secular democratic country. In constitution of Tunisia, we are an Arab, Muslim country. We want to preserve our national identity but to be democrat at the same time.”

The main message that Turkey sent to Tunisia was a combination of identity and democracy, he said. “Democracy, within the identity of Turkish people, that’s what we want to implement to Tunisia,” Abdessalem said. Citing the prejudgment on Arab countries for reconciliation of democracy and Islam, the Tunisian revolution showed that all of them were possible at the same time, he said.

“We are very keen to combine Islam and democracy in Tunisia.” Turkey affirmed that Islam and democracy can survive together, he said. Davutoğlu affirmed Turkey’s support to Tunisia throughout this process. “The Turkish government and Turkish NGOs will stand with Tunisia. The success of Tunisia is the success of Turkey,” Davutoğlu said. Turkish President Abdullah Gül released a statement yesterday saying the new government in Tunisia could be a model to regional countries progressing toward democracy and freedom.

Tunisia, Turkey, Rafik Abdessalem, Economic and Social Research, SETA