SECRETARY CLINTON: I just had an excellent meeting with the president, the foreign minister, and other officials of the Tunisian Government. And I think the message is one that I particularly resonate to because the revolution here in Tunisia has not only made a significant difference in the lives of Tunisians, but it has also given hope to people everywhere.
The political side of the revolution is going quite well. The elections were done in a very impressive way. The assembly is now constituted. The government is up and running. The challenge is how to ensure that the economic development of Tunisia matches the political development. And I would make just three points.
First, this is not an unusual challenge. Anytime there is a revolution, there will be the need to reconstitute the economic institutions as well as the political ones. The era of cronyism and corruption is over. The new era of entrepreneurship and opportunity is coming. How we hasten its arrival is the very important question that we are working on with the Tunisian Government.
Secondly, there is a need for both short-term relief and a longer-term economic plan that will make the changes in Tunisia that will open Tunisia to the world and bring opportunity here to your country. I have pledged to the president that I will do whatever I can on behalf of the United States Government to help in the short run to deal with the immediate economic needs of the Tunisian people, and also to support the longer-term changes that will make a real difference for Tunisia.
And finally, I will reach out to other governments and countries. I am a very strong champion for Tunisian democracy and what has been accomplished here. And that includes ensuring that the economic opportunities that the Tunisian people are seeking are made available.
So both on behalf of the United States and in my capacity as Secretary of State, working with colleagues from countries around the world, I will do my best to provide the support that is needed in the short term. I don’t want to over-promise. As you know, there’s a global economic downturn affecting much of the world right now, but I am confident that Tunisia has a way forward that will lead to success for this important country at this point in your history. And I thank the president for the very thorough briefing and discussion we had. I’m looking forward to meeting now with the prime minister. But I mostly come with a very specific and committed statement of support for both the political and the economic reforms that are occurring here.
Thank you very much.