Gül addresses Tunisia Parliament, hails revolt
AA photoTurkey’s Abdullah Gül yesterday became the first foreign president to address the Tunisian parliament since the 2010 “Jasmin Revolution.” In his evening speech, the Turkish president advised solving economic problems and extending the realm of freedoms.
“You have to be realistic,” Gül said, his words frequently cut by applause. “Neither Tunisia nor Turkey are rich in resources. But both are very rich in human resources.”
He advised against populist economic policies, giving the example of Ibn Khaldun, a 13th century Islamic scientist who’s seen as a reference for free market policies.
“The Tunisian flag always excites me,” Gül said. “The common denominator of the two sides of the Meditteranean is the crescent and the star.”
In an earlier comment, Gül emphasized that Turkey is opposed to any forces from outside the Middle East region to intervene in Syria.
“Turkey is against intervention by any force from outside the region. Such an intervention could be subject to exploitation,” he said. Speaking at a joint news conference at a presidential palace overlooking the Mediterranean, both Gül and Tunisian President Moncef Marzouki urged an end to the violence.
“It is not possible for any regime to continue through the use of violence and ... dictatorship,” Gül said. “The decision to use the armed forces against the people has transformed the issue ... into one of international interest.”
Marzouki, meanwhile, said Tunisia would be willing to send forces to Syria as part of an Arab peacekeeping operation mooted at the first “Friends of Syria” conference, which the North African country hosted last month.
Marzouki, who has offered al-Assad asylum in Tunisia, also said the best solution was a negotiated exit for the Syrian leader followed by a transition to democracy.
Gül said Turkey, which is to host the next “Friends of Syria” meeting, would hold a preparatory conference in two weeks’ time.
The president said Turkey wanted “the largest possible participation” in the next Friends of Syria conference, which he said was “being held on an international level and has nothing to do with bilateral relations” - a reference to Turkish-French ties, which stalled recently on an annulled French law making it a crime to deny that the 1915 events constituted genocide against Armenians.
Gül was accompanied on the visit by Deputy Prime Minister Beşir Atalay and Development Minister Cevdet Yılmaz.
“Tunisia is also a model because it has launched efforts to ensure the rule of law in a pluralist system, elected a president and formed a government,” Gül said, according to the official website of the Turkish Presidency.
The president also met with Tunisian Prime Minister Hamadi Jebali and Parliamentary Speaker Mustapha Ben Jaafar. He visited the Martyr’s Monument and placed a wreath there in memory of those who lost their lives during the Jan. 14 revolution.