Turkey and Tunisia signed an agreement on Tuesday to establish a high-level
strategic cooperation council based in Ankara.
The agreement was signed
during a press conference between Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan
and his Tunisian counterpart Hamadi Jebali, as reported by the Journal of
Turkish Weekly website.
Erdogan stated that the council would hold its
first meeting this coming March in Tunisia.
This move contributes to the
strategy of the AKP Islamist government in Turkey, which is seeking regional
leadership, particularly by allying itself with like-minded Islamist Sunni
governments and movements in the area.
Erdogan mentioned his support for
the Tunisian revolution and its new foreign affairs policy in the Arab world.
The Tunisian prime minister mentioned the growing ties between the two countries
and that they had never been at such a high level in the past.
establish a power of balance, a new civilization,” Jebali stated, thanking
Turkey for its support during the revolution.
The Turkish Weekly reported
that he also thanked Turkey for its financial support by raising a $500 million
fund, including $100m. in direct aid.
Jebali also hailed the increase in
Turkish foreign investment in Tunisia and even announced that his country would
begin teaching Turkish in its schools next year.
“Both sides wish to
establish strategic relations and there is great will in this matter,” he
In Jebali’s meeting with Turkish parliament speaker Cemil Çiçek,
the speaker stated, “We do hope that all other Muslim brotherly countries reach
similar success. There have been times in Turkey when democracy was
suspended for [a while].”
He added that Turkey did not view the region
simply according to the location of its oil wells, as “what is important for us
is your brotherhood.”
The agreement follows previous cooperation between
the two countries.
The Magharebia website reported that the two
governments held a youth exchange program in Istanbul in November with 50
politically active youth from Tunisia meeting their Turkish counterparts. The
Tunisian youth were there “to learn how to help their country’s democratic
transition... Turkey is actively engaging its neighbors on a variety of
levels to deepen the relationships between countries,” the site
The exchange program was part of the AKP government’s Middle East
Youth Project, which according to Nurettin Alhan, one of the hosts of the
Tunisian event, is meant to “bring together young people from many countries to
Similar programs were already held with youths from
Egypt and Libya, and an event is planned with youth from Yemen in 2013.