Gül claimed Tunisia can be a model for other regional countries that are seeking democracy after decades of authoritarian rule, praising the country’s successful political transition after the Jasmine Revolution, which ousted the 23-year Zine El Abidine Ben Ali dictatorship last year.
“The Tunisian people followed the Jasmine Revolution for freedom, honor and justice, and Tunisia has become a model for the region and appreciated by the world. Tunisia has launched a remarkable transformation,” Gül stated during a dinner that his Tunisian counterpart, Moncef Marzouki, hosted in honor of him. Gül also took the opportunity to praise growing economic and strategic relations between the two countries, which he described as “highly important for regional stability.”
On Friday, the Turkish president also visited Rashid al-Ghannushi, the leader of the Tunisian moderate Islamic party known as the Ennahda Movement, which gained a prominent place in the post-revolutionary period after winning 40 percent of the vote in the country’s historic October elections.
Recalling previous oppression during the dictatorship in Tunisia, Gül commended Ghannushi and the Tunisian people, who he said have “resisted tyranny with patience and were honored by God with success.” Ghannushi, a prominent scholar, long struggled against Ben Ali’s government for democratic reform and was imprisoned for his role in a reform movement in 1981, released in 1984 and imprisoned again in 1987 with a life sentence. Released due to intense political pressure in 1988, he was exiled to Europe. Ghannushi has emerged as one of the most prominent figures in post-Ben Ali Tunisia.
Deputy Prime Minister Beşir Atalay and State Minister Cevdet Yılmaz were also present with Gül during his visit. After wrapping up talks in Tunisia, Gül returned to Turkey on Friday.