By Farah Samti | Feb 1 2014African Union , AU , foreign affairs , foreign ministry , Mongi Hamdi ,
Addis Ababa – The newly appointed minister of foreign affairs Monji Hamdi made his first official international appearance at the closing session of the twenty-second summit of the African Union, held at the AU headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on Friday.
Tunisia, an AU member state, had been absent at the opening ceremony of the summit, which centered on the theme “Agriculture and Food Security.”
The summit came just after the announcement and approval of both the new constitution and Mehdi Jomaa’s new caretaker government this week. Jomaa chose Hamdi as one of the non-partisan ministers in his caretaker government, which will lead the country to the new elections expected later this year.
Born in Sidi Bouzid, the birthplace of the Arab Spring, Minister of Foreign Affairs Monji Hamdi pursued his studies at the University of California and then at Harvard, in the United States, after graduating as an engineer in Tunis. He has held senior diplomatic positions including at the United Nations.
Hamdi gave Tunisia Live his first interview since he was assigned in his new position and during his first official international representation.
Tunisia Live: Minister Hamdi, how did the AU and African leaders react to the new constitution and government?
Monji Hamdi: “The reaction of the African Union is very positive. All of them hailed the adoption of the Tunisian constitution, which they considered as very modern, and which meets more than the expectations of all people. It guarantees the rights of women, it guarantees the rights of minorities, it guarantees the rights of people to practice their faith as they wish without any interference. It guarantees a number of other issues related to human rights.”
TL: Where does Tunisia’s relation with the AU fall in your new agenda?
Hamdi: The new constitution respects our relation with the African Union. This relation can only be strengthened. Africa now is a rising continent. Six of the world’s top performing economies are in Africa. So Africa has great potential. And Tunisia is a part of Africa. We need to strengthen our relations with most of the African countries, especially those with performing economies.
TL: Are there any new projects within Tunisia’s cooperation with the African Union?
Hamdi: Yes. We have the proposal of the president of Tunisia which is to set up an African center of statistics in Tunisia [The African Union Commission Institute for Statistics]. They agreed to set up the center. And we will expedite its beginning. We need to start as soon as possible without limitations. With the decision of the AU we will set up this African center of statistics in Tunis.
TL: What progress has been made in asking to base the Pan African Organization for Intellectual Property in Tunisia?
Hamdi: I met today with the commissioner of human resources and science and technology and we agreed that it will be on the agenda of next summit of African Union. He himself will come to Tunis sometime in March to discuss some modalities, some logistical modalities so that we will be on the same wavelength. And there will be a report that will be discussed at the next African summit.