Tunisia: Despite Diplomatic Spat, France Committed to Tunisia’s Stability

by | Jun 4, 2023 | Diplomacy, Economic, Security, Tunisia


On 30 May 2023, Tunisian Foreign Minister Nabil Ammar met with his French counterpart Catherin Colonna in Paris as the two countries continue to work toward a resolution to Tunisia’s economic stability and the flow of migrants through Tunisia to Europe.

Echoing recent G7 statements issued following the group’s summit in Japan, the French Foreign Minister affirmed support for seeing Tunisia implement economic reforms that would lead to the completion of a loan deal with the International Monetary Fund (IMF). France has shown a willingness to invest in the stability of its former colony, having issued a $200 million loan in November 2022 to assist in facilitating Tunisia’s implementation of the reforms outlined in the IMF loan deal as agreed to by the Tunisian government in late 2022.

Following the meeting between the two ministers in Paris, a minor diplomatic spat occurred after a French media outlet reported that the French Foreign Minister had emphasized the importance of “rights and freedoms.” The Tunisian Foreign Ministry was quick to deny that any conversations regarding “rights and freedoms” had taken place.

On 3 June 2023, President Kais Saied spoke with French President Emmanuel Macron on a phone call. According to official statements from the President’s office, Saied used the opportunity to emphasize the risk of implementing austerity measures, recalling the 1983-1984 bread riots that killed dozens of Tunisians. President Saied also raised again his proposals that taxing the rich and recovering pilfered funds from aboard could be alternative solutions to Tunisia’s financial challenges.

President Macron continued to take a less direct approach to encouraging economic reform to Tunisia’s economy, holding to the message of being willing to support the reform process outlined by the IMF.


Despite the diplomatic spat over a perceived rebuke of Tunisia’s human rights record, France has shown a commitment to advancing relations with Tunisia and investing in the country’s stability.

Irregular migration continues to drive France’s diplomatic agenda with the former colony, though France continues to take a less direct approach than other countries in rebuking the country’s treatment of migrants, political opposition members, and others.

France, like neighbor Italy, remains heavily invested in Tunisia’s stability, likely viewing an economic or political collapse as intolerable from a security perspective. Therefore, France is likely to remain heavily invested in short-term economic relief and longer-term stability in Tunisia, even if motivated by self-interest.


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