Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Tunsian PM Talks Arab Spring Revolts

Tunisian Prime Minister Beji Caid Essebsi addressed the far-reaching impact of the Arab Spring and the resulting Tunisian Revolution Wednesday in Copley Formal Lounge.

Sponsored by the Office of the President and the Center for Contemporary Arab Studies, Essebi spoke about his hopes for the future of Tunisia and the Arab world in light of the wave of pro-democratic revolts that have rocked the region since December. Essebsi took office on Feb. 27 after former Prime Minister Mohamed Ghannouchi resigned under pressure from the revolts in his home country.

According to Essebsi, assuming his role in the midst of civil strife has given him first-hand knowledge of the revolutionaries’ goals for the country and its neighbors. He stressed that the revolution combined Tunisia’s rich history with an awareness of contemporary standards of living. Under his policies, Essebi believes that the country is now committed to establishing equality and liberty, regardless of language, religion, gender or ethnicity.

“President Mebazaa has taken up this project and cared for it and set up a democracy. … The projects are not completed, but we have the institutions for that awareness of a democratic system,” he said.

For Essebsi, a solid institutional foundation is crucial for such a functioning democracy. Political objectives originating from this foundation include fair elections, formation and regulation of new political parties and reform of the judiciary. Essebi also hopes to encourage economic and educational growth.

Essebsi also emphasized that his government has no desire to intervene in the policies of other nations. However, he hopes that the revolutionary spirit of the Arab Spring will arise in surrounding countries, as it already has in Libya and others across the Middle East.

“The breadth of freedom has no borders,” Essebsi said. “Revolutions do not respect the sovereignty of nations.”

He added that remaining open to freedom and change will decrease the potential for violent insurgencies in the future.

While students appreciated Essebsi’s sentiments, some felt that his ambitions and explanations of the Tunisian revolution were not entirely pragmatic.

“I thought it was really good. It was just very idealistic,” Yomna Sarhan (SFS ’14) said.

Others felt that Essebsi’s arguments did not fully address the context and possible effects of the Arab Spring.

“A lot of his speech and a lot of what the government is doing in Tunisia is to throw out nice terms to say that something is happening,” Patrick Deem (SFS ’14) said.

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