Tunisian President: "Europe is our Destiny"
Ironically, this disgraceful meeting took place in Valletta, a city named after one of Europe's greatest heroes in the struggle against Islam. VALLETTA: North African leaders sought to reassure Europe at a summit in Malta on Friday that the upheaval in their countries would ultimately generate more stability and investment opportunities.
Transitions in North Africa "are not a threat for Europe,” Tunisian President Moncef Marzouki, who came to power last year after long-time ruler Zine El Abidine Ben Ali fled and the country held its first democratic vote.
"Don’t be afraid of Salafi Islamic groups,” Marzouki said following a wave of anti-Western protests across the Muslim world over a US video offensive to Islam and satirical cartoons published in France.
"Non-democratic Islamic systems would not be accepted by people. We want Islamic democracy, not autocracy,” said Marzouki, who has come under criticism in Tunisia for not doing enough to keep radical Islamist movements in check.
Marzouki also said there were "lots of opportunities” for European investment, adding that the region was "in bad need” of infrastructure.
He said Arab Spring states were "paying a heavy price” for democracy, a reference to the plunge in foreign investment and public finances woes.
"Europe is our destiny,” said Marzouki, one of five Maghreb leaders at the talks with five European leaders including French President Francois Hollande, Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti and Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy. (continue reading...)