Unrest in Tunisia

Posted on June 14th, 2011 in Parliamentary News

Keith Vaz (Leicester East) (Lab): I thank the Minister for the reassurance that he has given about constituents who are in Tunisia and welcome the fact that he has emphasised the EU. Tunisia, of course, is part of the EUROMED process, and a number of projects have been sanctioned by the EU concerning migration, development and policing. As the hon. Member for Bournemouth West (Conor Burns) said, we might be unable to resolve the current issues there, but can we be ready with plan B, so that we can continue with those initiatives, which are important to the whole of the north Africa rim?

Mr Lidington: The right hon. Gentleman is correct that those are important issues not only for Tunisia, but for every country along the north African coast. Certainly, when I have talked with ambassadors from those countries in London, they have expressed concern about the risk that not only extremist groups, but those involved in people trafficking, drug trafficking and other forms of organised crime might use their territories as through-routes to try to penetrate Europe. We want to work with those countries, which are independent sovereign states, to ensure that they are able to improve their governance in the way the right hon. Gentleman describes. It is in the interests of Europe and of those north African countries that they are able to do so and move forward on the basis of greater respect for human rights and enduring political reforms.