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Blinken: Tunisia faces the ‘unknown’ if it does not reach an agreement with the IMF

March 22, 2023 at 9:03 pm

United States Secretary of State Antony Blinken. [Evrim Aydın/Anadolu Agency]

Washington: US Secretary of State, Anthony Blinken, warned on Wednesday that Tunisia urgently needs to reach an agreement with the International Monetary Fund, after the European Union expressed concern about the deteriorating political and economic situation in this country.

“The most important thing they can do in Tunisia, from an economic point of view, is to reach an agreement with the IMF,” Blinken said in response to a question about Tunisia during a hearing of the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

“We strongly encourage them to do so because the economy may be heading into the unknown,“ he added.

Tunisia is struggling under the weight of growing debts and rising prices exacerbated by the Russian invasion of Ukraine. It reached a preliminary agreement in October to obtain a new loan of about two billion dollars from the International Monetary Fund.

The World Bank has sought reforms in Tunisia, and recently expressed concern about a series of racist attitudes against the background of statements by President Qais Saied criticising the large presence of illegal immigrants in his country and talking about a conspiracy to change the “demographic composition” of the country.

READ: US will continue to support aspirations of Tunisian people for prosperous democratic future

On Monday, EU Foreign Policy chief, Joseph Borell, announced that the bloc is concerned about the deterioration of the political and economic situation in Tunisia and fears its collapse.“If Tunisia collapses, it threatens with an influx of migrants towards the European Union and causing instability in the Middle East and North Africa,” he said. We want to avoid this situation.”

The Tunisian Foreign Ministry, on Tuesday, rejected Borell’s statements, saying they were “exaggerated”.Blinken also expressed his concerns about the political transition of Tunisia under Saied, who has monopolised all powers since 25 July, 2021.

The opposition accused Saied of staging a coup in the country, from which the Arab Spring was launched a decade ago.