Signing Ceremony With the Tunisian Ambassador to the United States Mohamed Salah Tekaya

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Tunisian Ambassador to the United States Mohamed Salah Tekaya
Treaty Room
Washington, DC
May 17, 2012

SECRETARY CLINTON: It’s wonderful to welcome Ambassador Tekaya here, along with members of the Embassy of Tunisia to celebrate this important step in our partnership. In the United States, we have an old saying: You’ve got to put your money where your mouth is. You can’t just say you support something; you have to back it up with value. And we have been very supportive of Tunisia’s democratic future, and we want to back up those words, Ambassador, with actions.

It was less than two months ago that I announced this cash transfer, and I’d like to thank all of my colleagues at the State Department and USAID for their work to make this happen so quickly. But this transfer is only one of many valuable commitments we are making to the people and the new government of Tunisia. We will soon be finalizing a sovereign loan guarantee agreement, fully backed by the United States, which will provide several hundreds of millions of dollars more in financing for the Tunisian Government. We are working through USAID to help Tunisia develop its information communications technology sector. And last fall, Tunisia became eligible for the Millennium Challenge Corporation’s Threshold Program, which will support sustained, broad-based economic growth throughout the country.

We are also deepening our ties with the Tunisian people, helping to build Tunisia’s institutions of democracy and governance, fostering the growth of civil society and the private sector, and expanding educational and cultural exchanges. And as Tunisia’s leaders shape the country’s new institutions, we are encouraging them and working with them to ensure that core principles of human rights, transparency, and accountability are part of Tunisia’s democratic transformation. After years of totalitarian rule, the Tunisian people deserve a government that is responsible to their needs and usefully using their resources.

So the United States stands firmly with Tunisia, as do many others. Tunisia’s neighbors are increasing their investment and budget support, and we are delighted to see other nations joining in this important effort. The Tunisian people have friends all over the world, and each investment is a tangible demonstration of commitment to the Tunisian peoples’ goals of realizing a Tunisia founded on democratic principles, built on inclusive economic growth, where every man, woman, and child has the opportunity for a better future.

So, Ambassador, we are proud to be your partner in helping to shape that future.

AMBASSADOR TEKAYA: Thank you very much. Thank you very much, Honorable Secretary, for your warm welcome and your kind words about Tunisia and the trust that you have in the ability of Tunisia to succeed in this transition.

It is, for me, a distinct honor to be here today, and to sign with Your Excellency, the Memorandum of Acknowledgment of the Cash Transfer that you have just mentioned, which is really to support the stabilization of the Tunisian economy through provision of budgetary support. Indeed, this is a significant measure of support for Tunisia at a critical stage in its transition to democracy, and it’s also a critical stage in its history. And on behalf of the Tunisian Government, I would like to extend to you – and through you to the Government of the United States – our deepest gratitude for that support.

Indeed, the cash transfer is one of the various measures that the U.S. administration has granted Tunisia. You have mentioned the loan guarantees, also the Tunisia Enterprise Fund, and the Threshold Program with MCC. So we are really grateful, and we also – I also want to extend a special thanks to the members of Congress for their support for these measures, as well as the various departments and agencies for the work that they have done to materialize these measures.

Tunisia today has made significant progress in this transition to democracy with the organization of free, fair elections and also the election of a president, a speaker of the constituent assembly, and also a head of government. And the constituent assembly is currently engaged in elaborating a new constitution for Tunisia – for a modern Tunisia, for a new Tunisia, which would be respectful of human rights, respectful of the values of the democracy, and which would respond to the aspirations of the Tunisian people for freedom and for dignity. And we count on the support of our friends in the first place, the friends who share these values, the values of democracy, liberty, and dignity, and the United States is certainly in the forefront of those countries with whom – for whom we seek the support.

Tunisia is facing enormous challenges, economic, social, and also financial challenges. It counts, in the first place, on its own resources and its own means, implementing meaningful reforms and also mobilizing national resources to face these challenges. But Tunisia counts also on the valuable support of its friends. And the United States has been steadfast in that regard. In his – we always want to recall that in his State of the Union Address in January last year, President Obama said that the United States will stand with the people of Tunisia. And I think that his support is really highly appreciated by the people of Tunisia. And since then, United States has been delivering on that support, so we are thankful.

We are also thankful for the role that United States – and the active role that United States has been playing, galvanizing international support for Tunisia. And I would like to pay a special tribute to you, Madam Secretary of State. You have been a special supporter of Tunisia, a strong advocate of support for Tunisia, so we owe you a lot of credit for that.

And as the revolution in Tunisia has opened new opportunities for the people of Tunisia, it has also opened – created new opportunities for the relations between our two countries. And these opportunities are really for us to explore, and we invite our friends from the United States to share with us these opportunities in many sectors. Last September, our two countries launched a political and economic partnership, which is setting up a rich, comprehensive agenda of cooperation on many areas of mutual interest. And that partnership is moving forward, and we’re happy to continue to work together to further advance it.

Tunisia looks forward to attracting American investment. We invite American companies to come to Tunisia to explore the opportunities that Tunisia offers, a Tunisia that is implementing far-reaching reforms – economic reforms, financial reforms, also strengthening good governance, strengthening transparency and the rule of law. Tunisia will be a very good place for American investors and for American companies.

So with this, also I would like to stress how important our friendship is, and we would like to further promote understanding between our two peoples through student exchanges, through additional exchanges, and through partnership between the private sector in Tunisia and the private sector in the United States of America.

And I thank you, Honorable Secretary, for providing us with this opportunity to celebrate a friendship and a partnership between our two countries.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you so much, Ambassador. (Applause.)

(The Memorandum of Acknowledgement of the Cash Transfer Agreement between the United States and the Tunisian Republic was signed.)


SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you all very much. Thank you.