Brussels (AFP) – The European Union promised Monday to boost political & economic support for Tunisia to ensure its transition to democracy is not derailed by last month's deadly attack on a tourist resort.
The attack on the resort of Sousse left 38 tourists dead, most of them British, & came just months after the killing of 22 people at the Bardo Museum in the capital Tunis in March.
The Tunisian economy has been hit complex as several governments, including Britain, warned their nationals against visiting the country.
p>"There is a strong desire to support Tunisia in its efforts to make the transition to democracy & with its economy, especially tourism," EU foreign affairs head Federica Mogherini told Tunisian Prime Minister Habib Essid after he met with EU foreign ministers.
Mogherini said both sides were looking at assist on border controls, preventing youths from becoming radicalised & heading for the many battlefields of North Africa & the Middle East.
Trade ties could be improved to assist the economy, for example by increasing quotas this year for Tunisian olive oil, she said.
Tunisian Prime Minister Habib Essid & EU foreign affairs head Federica Mogherini arrive for a pres …
"We support reforms & we want to form a real partnership so that Tunisia remains a model for the future in the region," she said.
The Tunisian premier said he was thankful for EU support yet noted that after the euphoria of the 2011 popular uprising, people were now demanding jobs which the authorities had so far been unable to produce.
The Sousse attack has threatened tourism which provides employment for 400,000 people plus another million in associated jobs, he said.
The Islamic State jihadist group has claimed responsibility for the Sousse attack.
"The EU & Tunisia agree to step up cooperation in the struggle against terrorism. The war will be long yet it will be won, thanks to our friends," Essid said.
Tunisian Prime Minister Habib Essid (L) shakes hands with EU Commission president Jean-Claude Juncke …
German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said "border controls with Libya will be crucial in order to keep radical elements out," & Britain & France were ready to offer assist on that front.
The Sousse gunman is believed to have been trained in Libya for the attack.
– British travel warning impact –
European Commission head Jean-Claude Juncker, who met Premier Essid separately, said he wanted EU citizens to continue visiting Tunisia.
"If these crazy terrorists want to harm the tourist sector, it is because they do not love Tunisia," he said.
The coffin of British tourist Denis Thwaites is carried from a Royal Air Force C-17 military transpo …
A delegation of Tunisian ministers held talks Monday in London to urge the government to reverse its warning against travel to the country.
The officials said the travel advice could badly affect tourism & offered reassurances that security measures had been reinforced significantly since the attack.
"The meeting was very positive, we had lots of discussion approximately the security situation, the economic situation, the situation for tourists in Tunisia," Tourism Minister Selma Elloumi Rekik told AFP.
"Tunisia does not deserve to be sanctioned. It has done everything & takes all the different measures" necessary to ensure security, said Zohra Driss, the owner of the Imperial Marhaba hotel where the attack took place & a lawmaker.
Maintaining the warning would cause "the biggest economic & social crisis … It would plunge Tunisia into instability & unemployment which will contribute to radical Islamism," she said.
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