On the occasion of the visit of the Foreign Minister of the Republic of Tunisia, HE Mr. Khemaies Jhinaoui, to Austria, and after fruitful talks with the Minister for Europe, Integration and Foreign Affairs, HE Mr. Sebastian Kurz, the following Joint Statement was adopted:
- Both sides stressed the longstanding excellent relations between the two countries and their determination to enhance their cooperation in all fields.
- The Austrian side expressed appreciation for the Tunisian government’s efforts in democratisation, further development of an inclusive society under challenging conditions, internationally recognized by awarding the Nobel price. Both sides discussed the complex situation in the region, combatting instability, terrorism and economic problems, and stressed Tunisia’s important role in North Africa and beyond.
- Both sides stressed the importance of socioeconomic stability for the success of the Tunisian model of democratic transition and expressed their willingness to further intensify their cooperation in all domains. They emphasized that attracting foreign investment was essential for the Tunisian economy.
- In this context, both sides also discussed the engagement of Austrian companies in Tunisia, emphasizing the necessity of a stable and secure climate for investment and the creation of jobs by Austrian companies in Tunisia. They further underlined the importance of community development programmes of Austrian investors in Tunisia aimed at increasing the employability of young Tunisians.
- Both sides are determined to support the positive momentum generated by the International Conference on Investment “Tunisia 2020” and the improvement of the business environment in Tunisia which remains the most competitive site in the region. In this context, the Austrian side has expressed its willingness to further support Austrian direct investment in Tunisia, in particular in view of the advantages and incentives provided by the new investment code which entered into force on 1er April 2017.
- Both sides recalled the very successful cooperation during Austria´s Chairmanship of the OSCE Mediterranean Group last year, in particular regarding the ministerial-level Mediterranean Conference in Vienna, as well as the workshop in Tunis on youth radicalisation in North Africa.
- They acknowledged the close cooperation with Tunisia on the situation of youth on both sides of the Mediterranean, including their participation in all aspects of public life, and issues regarding prevention of radicalisation and violent extremism, which serves as an important basis for the focus on those issues during the 2017 Austrian OSCE Chairmanship.
- The two parties stressed the importance of supporting young entrepreneurship. They also agreed on greater dialogue between Austrian and Tunisian youth and to work together for the implementation the ‘EU-Tunisia Youth Partnership’ initiative launched by the Tunisian President, agreed upon the occasion of the first EU-Tunisia Summit, held in Brussels on 1st December 2016.
- Both sides touched upon the Austrian EU Presidency in the second half of 2018. In the Southern Neighbourhood, the overarching objective of the EU will continue to be long-term sustainable stability through democratic governance in the region with the EU stepping up her engagement with countries that, such as Tunisia, are implementing meaningful political and economic reforms.
- The two sides endorsed the results of the Association Council EU-Tunisia (Brussels, 11th May 2017) and held an exchange of views on the future framework of relations between Tunisia and the EU for the period 2018-2020. In this respect, Tunisia reiterated its wish to advance its relations with the European Union in order to reinforce its anchoring in the European socio-economic space.
- Both sides agreed that the future EU- Tunisia framework of support should reflect the unique and specific democratic experience of Tunisia and, as foreseen by the European Neighbourhood Policy’s review in November 2015, provide for a special and differential treatment to this country in order to help Tunisia to face the enormous transition challenges.
- Both sides paid particular attention to the various aspects and challenges of irregular migration along the Central Mediterranean route. Smugglers and human traffickers exploit migrants, who risk and often lose their lives. Both sides stressed the paramount importance of disrupting the business model of smugglers and traffickers.
- In this context, both sides acknowledged the existing technical cooperation on border management issues and reviewed possibilities for further Austrian support for Tunisia’s efforts.
- Both sides remain committed to the Action Plan agreed at the 11-12th November 2015 Valletta Summit on Migration and consent to continue to support a swift implementation of the aims laid out therein, including on development and poverty eradication; on addressing instability and crisis; on promoting regular migration, inter alia through the opportunities provided by the Red-White-Red Card; on protection and asylum; on preventing and fighting against irregular migration, migrant smuggling and trafficking in human beings; on return, readmission and reintegration.
- Both sides exchanged views on the importance of the “Malta Declaration by the Members of the European Council on the external aspects of migration: addressing the Central Mediterranean route” and the priorities laid down therein.
- Both sides have been cooperating bilaterally on questions related to asylum, regular and irregular migration for more than forty years and intend to continue and further improve this cooperation.
- Both sides agreed to deepen and further intensify the cooperation between the two countries at all levels.
Distributed by APO on behalf of Federal Ministry Republic of Austria.