President Beji Caid Essebsi stressed that the new year 2017 “will be the year of economic recovery and achievement of a substantial growth rate”, while qualifying as “difficult in many respects the year 2016 “.
Conveying his wishes for the New Year to the Tunisian people on Saturday evening, the Head of State said the year that passed saw “nevertheless successes, including the battle won against terrorism in Ben Guerdane, the conclusion of the Carthage Document which paved the way for the formation of a national unity government, as well as the holding, last November, of the international investment conference Tunisia-2020”.
“This conference allowed Tunisia to collect foreign investment intentions of the order of 34 billion dinars of which 15 billion will be materialised in 2017,” he reminded.
The President of the Republic expects a “respectable growth rate in 2017, an improvement in phosphate production as well as a revival of tourism whose good indices were perceptible this year, besides signs of a good agricultural harvest “.
On the other hand, he described the reaction to the information on a possible return of Tunisian terrorists as “agitation created knowingly without an objective reading of the data”, saying their number in the different areas of tension “does not exceed 2926.” He, in this connection, expressed “astonishment at the amplification of this number by some.”
Beji Caid Essebsi affirmed, in this regard, that the state will deal with the issue of the return of terrorists “in accordance with the law on terrorism and the ban on money laundering”, while noting that the Tunisian constitution does not prohibit their return to Tunisia.
Regarding the assassination of engineer Mohamed Zouari in mid-December in Sfax, the President of the Republic said “Tunisia will not skimp on the means, as it had done before, in taking the case to the United Nations Security Council if the involvement of the Israeli entity in this crime was confirmed”.
He categorically denied rumours about the Tunisian government’s intention to normalise relations with Israel. “This will never happen,” he said.
The President also reaffirmed Tunisia’s unwavering support for the Palestinian cause, recalling that the country had welcomed the Palestinian resistance for ten consecutive years.
Beji Caid Essebsi concluded his speech by stressing that “the interest of Tunisia in these circumstances requires closing ranks and showing solidarity with the state”.