Federal President Calmy-Rey at EU-Tunisia Task Force meeting in Tunis

Bern, Press release, 27.09.2011

To reinforce and better coordinate international support for the political and economic transformation of Tunisia following the fall of the Ben Ali regime, an EU-Tunisia Task Force was set up. On Wednesday, 28 September 2011, Federal President Micheline Calmy-Rey will represent Switzerland at the first meeting of this Task Force. At this meeting, she will underscore Switzerland's willingness to ensure that frozen illicit funds of persons associated with the Ben Ali-Regime are swiftly returned to the Tunisian people.

The meeting from 28-29 September 2011 in Tunis is being held at the invitation of Tunisian Prime Minister Beji Caid Essebsi and of Catherine Ashton – the European Union's High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, and Vice-President of the European Commission. A number of other high-ranking guests will also attend, including representatives of international financial institutions and of private industry. 

The aim of the two-day conference is to encourage international players to pledge their long-term commitment to the political and economic future of Tunisia and the southern Mediterranean region as a whole. Efforts will be made to establish Tunisia's specific needs in the current phase while stepping up and improving coordination of international assistance, thus ensuring that the transition processes move forward as efficiently as possible.   

Soon after the overthrow of Ben Ali, Switzerland became the first country in the world to freeze the assets of persons associated with the regime. These total some 60 million Swiss francs. "Returning illicit funds is our first priority, and is a core element in the support that Switzerland would like to provide for Tunisia's transformation process", said Federal President Calmy-Rey before the conference.  

Switzerland has been working closely with the Tunisian authorities in a number of expert missions. "Switzerland is committed to the rule of law," stressed Federal President Calmy-Rey: "For the legitimate return of such funds, their illicit origin must be proven in criminal proceedings. To achieve this, we need support from the Tunisian authorities."

The Federal Council supports the transition processes throughout the entire North African region affected by the Arab Spring. The aim is to work closely together with the authorities of the countries concerned to support the establishment of democratic, constitutional structures and a functioning market economy. In addition to the repatriation of stolen assets, Switzerland's North Africa strategy focuses on creating jobs and training young people, strengthening the rule of law, and migration-related projects such as locally based measures to protect refugees and migrants.

Further information:

Swiss commitment to North Africa
Freezing of assets in 2011

Address for enquiries:

Information FDFA
Bundeshaus West
CH-3003 Bern
Tel.: (+41) 031 322 31 53
Fax: (+41) 031 324 90 47
E-Mail: info@eda.admin.ch


Federal Department of Foreign Affairs