The Tunisian Presidency has denied claims that the country would join an alliance with Turkey and Algeria in light of the ongoing crisis in Libya and insisted it wanted to preserve its neutral status, without taking part in any coalitions.
“Rachida Ennaifer, designated Media in-Charge at the Tunisian Presidency, denies the press conference statement by Fathi Bashagha on Tunisia joining an alliance with Libya, Turkey and Algeria. She said the statement does not reflect the position of Tunisia,” the Libyan News Observatory tweeted.
BREAKING | Rachida #Ennaifer, designated Media in-Charge at the Tunisian Presidency, denies the press conference statement by Fathi #Bashagha on Tunisia joining an alliance with #Libya, #Turkey and #Algeria. She said the statement does not reflect the position of #Tunisia. pic.twitter.com/GxYKd98h93
— صحيفة المرصد الليبية (@ObservatoryLY) December 26, 2019
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan paid an unexpected visit to Tunisia earlier this week to meet President Kais Saied and discuss developments in neighbouring Libya.
Erdoğan said Tunisia, Algeria, and Qatar should participate in the Berlin conference on the Libyan crisis in January. Media reports quoted Erdoğan as saying that Tunisia could have a “valuable and constructive contribution” to restoring stability in Libya.
However, Tunisia’s press office said the country’s stance on the Libyan crisis was neutral and insisted that the country would not participate in any coalition.
Tunisia also denounced statements made by the Minister of Interior of Libya’s internationally recognised Government of National Accord (GNA), Fathi Bashagha, suggesting that Tunisia would join a Turkey-led alliance.
“We are on alert to prevent Tunisia from turning into a corridor for ISIS,” Ennaifer said.
Citing Turkish media reports, Greek daily To Vima reported that Erdoğan had asked Tunisia to give Turkish warships access to a port.
“Ankara seeks to secure maritime access to Libya via Tunisia, so that it can intervene at any time in neighbouring country in favour of the government of Saraj,” the Greek newspaper commented.
Foreign press declined access
Meanwhile, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) have accused the Tunisian government of denying access to foreign journalists to the joint press conference of Erdoğan and Saied.
“After seven foreign media outlets were denied access to the joint press conference that the Tunisian and Turkish presidents gave in the presidential palace in Tunis yesterday, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) reminds the Tunisian president’s office that it has a duty to treat journalists responsibly and to respect press freedom,” RSF said in a statement.
The organisation said reporters from Al-Jazeera, Al-Hurra, Al-Arabiya, Al-Mayadeen, Deutsche Presse-Agentur, Reuters, and SIPA USA were refused entry to Carthage Palace for the press conference.
[Edited by Zoran Radosavljevic]