French Foreign Minister to visit Tunisia

French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian will today visit Tunisia in hopes of reaffirming cooperation on issues of mutual interest,

Photo: AP Photo

French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian will today visit Tunisia in hopes of reaffirming cooperation on issues of mutual interest, particularly security in neighbouring war-torn Libya and energy interests in the eastern Mediterranean.

With the Turkish air force only 27 kilometres from the Tunisian border at Libya’s al-Watiya base and increased naval activity off the Libyan coast, Tunisia’s strategically-located position in the eastern Mediterranean has led France to deepen relations with the North African country beyond counter-terrorism operations.

As energy interests continue to shape the politics of the eastern Mediterranean, French relations with Italy are also likely to strengthen, signalled by the nations’ mutual willingness to defend the Trans-Mediterranean pipeline that transports energy from Algeria and Tunisia into Western Europe. In an earlier show of cooperation, France’s Total and Italy’s Eni had signed a partnership agreement to secure exploratory rights off the Algerian coast in 2018.

Expect France to justify and continue carrying out these policies by cementing itself as a champion of EU interests and spearheading the bloc’s efforts to combat Russian and Turkish competition. With Tunisia’s strategically-located geographic position and colonial ties to France, Paris will likely continue to see its relationship with Tunis as crucial in realising its regional policy.

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