For the first time since the Arab Spring, President Barack Obama has met with one of their leaders. Meeting this week with Tunisian Prime Minister Beji Caid Essebsi, President Obama discussed Tunisia’s democratization and their economic needs.
Obama and Essebsi
Essebsi has been leading Tunisia since the Tunisian dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali was thrown out earlier in the year. The two met in the Oval Office where Obama praised Tunisia for leading the transformation in the area.
As Obama said,
“Tunisia has been an inspiration to all of us who believe that each individual man and woman, has certain inalienable rights, and that those rights must be recognized in a government that is responsive, is democratic, in which free and fair elections can take place, and in which the rights of minorities are protected.”
Essebsi Praises Obama
Prime Minister Essebsi praised Obama for being the first leader to welcome the changes that took place in Tunisia in February. As Essebsi said, “Up until now the Arab Spring is really only the Tunisian spring. So what I do hope is that this Arab Spring will not limit itself exclusively to Tunisia, and that it will spread throughout the region and that of course depends on the economic and political success of Tunisia.”
During their talks, Obama discussed economic incentive and stabilization programs to create reform in the area. Obama explained that he and Essebsi talked about a package of loan guarantees and other assistance efforts.