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[Luxembourg 2005 Presidency of the Council of the European Union]
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Press Release
EU-Tunisia Association Council

Date of release : 31-01-2005

Policy area : General Affairs and External Relations

Event : EU-Tunisia Association Council

Within the framework of the "General Affairs and External Relations" Council of 31 January 2005, the Luxembourg Minister for Foreign Affairs and Immigration, Jean Asselborn, presided over the EU-Tunisia Association Council. During the meeting, Jean Asselborn stated:

"This fifth meeting of the Association Council has provided us with the opportunity to assess our relations and to further this political dialogue, to which the European Union attaches particular importance.

Our talks with Minister Hermassi revolved around the excellent relations between Tunisia and the European Union, particularly the implementation of our agreement and the means of further strengthening our economic and political cooperation.

Over dinner, we shall also be discussing regional and international issues such as the situation in the Middle East and in Iraq.

Tunisia has played a pioneering role: in 1995, the EU-Tunisia Association Agreement was the first to be concluded with a Mediterranean partner. It has been in force since 1998 and remains the main framework of our relations, based on a commitment to democratic values and respect for human rights and the rule of law.

I am delighted that Tunisia is now in a position to honour its political agreement regarding the protocol for adapting the association agreement in order to take into account last year’s accession of the 10 new Member States of the European Union. The protocol will be signed as soon as the European Union’s internal procedures have been completed.

On behalf of the European Union, I am also delighted about the conclusion, in July 2004, of the consultations on the action plan within the framework of the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP). Furthermore, I am confident that the Tunisian authorities will examine and approve the action plan as soon as possible with a view to obtaining official approval from the Association Council.

In this action plan, we have worked out together – in a spirit of partnership – ambitious objectives and established the priority actions required to achieve them.

In addition to political cooperation on issues such as the fight against terrorism, arms control, political and legal reforms and trade measures aimed at enabling Tunisia to gradually benefit from the EU’s internal market, the action plan covers areas such as energy and research, transport and the information society, as well as education and culture.

With my colleague and friend, Minister Hermassi, we shall now continue our exchange of views over dinner, and discuss international and bilateral political issues of common interest."

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