EU-Tunisian relations are back on track following the September 11 attack on the US consulate in Benghazi, full-time European Council President Herman Van Rompuy told reporters following his meeting on Monday with Tunisian Premier Hamadi Jebali.
The EU has ''privileged relations'' with Tunisia, which banned demonstrations against French satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo's caricatures of the Prophet Mohammed. ''Recent events prove we must work together on every level to cool tensions and improve mutual knowledge,'' said Van Rompuy.
''Tolerance, dialogue and respect are the only weapons we need to promote greater understanding between our societies. I will push the Council to develop our relations with Tunisia and with other Arab Spring countries.'' EU Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso confirmed Brussels' support for the Jebali administration.
''Now countries like Tunisia are better equipped against extremism. The apparent stability of the former dictatorship was an ideal hotbed for terrorism,'' Barroso said. ''In the new democracies, it is not always easy for the security forces to strike the right balance.'' Accordingly, the EU and Tunisia are discussing possible cooperation on police training, Barroso added.
The Tunisian premier said that the deadly attack on the US consulate was unjustified, no matter what the provocation. ''It had no moral basis in a country that is open and tolerant, that treats criminals with civility in spite of attacks, such as those against our Prophet,'' Jebali said. ''We must not answer misdeeds with more misdeeds: we must be open to dialogue. We will not allow any act of violence against our guests or our citizens. We will uphold the law, and take all the necessary steps against those responsible for such acts.''