Op-ed columnist Anne Applebaum's perspective on developments in Tunisia ["A Good Place to Have Aided Democracy," Feb. 13] is flawed.

Homegrown reforms introduced during the past two decades by President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali have incrementally anchored the bases of democratic pluralism, the rule of law and human rights in Tunisia. There are today nine opposition political parties that express themselves freely on all issues. Opposition candidates regularly take part in presidential and legislative elections.

Comprehensive development policies have also allowed Tunisia, despite its limited natural resources, to achieve constant economic growth of about 5 percent a year since 1987 and to ensure progress and prosperity for all. It is no coincidence that about 80 percent of Tunisian society belongs to the middle class, that poverty has been reduced to less than 4 percent of the population, and that more than 99 percent of school-age children of both sexes go to school.

Such efforts, along with the promotion of the rights of women, the pursuit of educational reform, and the dissemination of the values of tolerance and dialogue have made it possible to curtail extremism. Tunisia has repeatedly called for awareness and concerted action by all nations to combat extremism and terrorism effectively.


Press Counselor

Embassy of Tunisia