Tunisia: EU Conditions IMF Loan For Agreement

Any EU agreement on macro-financial assistance to Tunisia is contingent on reaching an agreement with the International Monetary Fund,” the European Commission said yesterday (April 27).

The statement sounds like a dismissal in the face of Italy’s repeated calls for a more flexible approach to the country, prioritizing urgent aid to budget-strapped Tunisia. Obsessed with the migration issue and the danger of an uncontrollable wave of migrants, the Italy of Giorgia Meloni (extreme right) recently proclaimed itself the number one ally of President Kais Saïed’s regime, but its voice remains a minority within of the EU.

Tunis and Rome agree that the Tunisian economic situation will not allow, by June 2023, to honor the country’s debts while finding the funds necessary for increased surveillance of the Mediterranean coasts.

However, “discussions are underway between Tunisia and the IMF and an agreement between them or on a reform program would allow the Commission to consider macro-financial assistance to support Tunisia”, declared a spokesperson for the European Commission to the press on Thursday.

In short, the precondition remains that Tunisia first concludes an agreement with the IMF on a set of comprehensive reforms. This constitutes a victory for the position of Josep Borrell already expressed last March, the head of European diplomacy demanding the signature of the Tunisian president in person with the Fund.

Tunisia at The Center of a New Game of Geopolitical Axes

But Italy, no doubt aware of President Saïed’s tenacity, had rather suggested financial aid without this precondition, at least initially, so as to facilitate the start of economic and political reforms, while the ministers Foreign Affairs of the European Union have been discussing since Monday how to ensure that the country’s instability does not fuel illegal immigration to Europe.

“Tunisia is a key country for stability in the Mediterranean and in North Africa,” said Italian Foreign Minister Antonio Tajani on his arrival in Luxembourg for EU negotiations, he who now refers to Tunisia almost daily. In particular, he declared the same day not without speaking frankly “that Tunisia should not be left to Russia and China”. The same minister declared at the end of March that “if Tunisia is not supported, the Muslim Brotherhood could create instability”.

Yesterday Thursday, the Biden administration was accused of hypocrisy towards Tunisia during a stormy Senate hearing, because of its decision to cut economic and humanitarian aid while maintaining military support for the country then that its democracy is dying there. “I do not understand what message we are sending by reducing our aid to Tunisian civil society to nothing, while preserving our military aid”, thus lambasted Democratic Senator Chris Murphy.

On Thursday, President Kais Saïed appointed a Tunisian ambassador to Syria, a first after more than a decade of severed diplomatic relations between the two countries.

This article is originally published on lecourrierdelatlas.com

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