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Ansari describes North Africa visit as satisfying

Vice President Hamid Ansari visit to Morocco and Tunisia

On Board Air India one : Vice President Hamid Ansari has described his visit to Morocco and Tunisia as satisfying, having covered various issues of bilateral and international interest, including trade, terrorism and economic relations.

Talking to the media on board his special aircraft during the return flight from Tunisia to New Delhi, he said, “It was a good visit and we held good discussions on various issues in Morocco and Tunisia. Substantive matters were discussed in both the countries.”

“I came with a stretched out hand of friendship for both the countries, but I found their hands were also stretched towards us,” the Vice President said.

He said that in both the countries fruitful discussions were held on various matters of mutual interest, including economic, tourism, IT and allied sectors.

Ansari said that tourism is the main activity resulting in economic upliftment for both the country, but is affected by terrorism due to which number of tourists coming from Europe is declining.

“Once these countries succeed in rolling back terrorism, then tourism flow will improve with increased numbers from European countries,” the Vice President said.

He said that it is natural for them to go in for revival of tourism in order to move ahead economically.

He said that reception accorded to him and his delegation in both the countries was very warm and very friendly.

Some new initiatives have been taken in West Africa and both countries are close to the West African region.

“If triangular tie ups (between North Africa, West Africa and India could be initiated it could be beneficial for all,” he added.

Ansari noted that that visit at the level of the Vice President has taken place after many years.

“Even at the level of the Prime Minister, the visits have been few. My trip was carefully planned so that India and both the countries benefit.My trip has been satisfactory,” the Vice President who returned home today after concluding his five-day visit to Morocco and Tunisia said.

He said that in future sharper focus will be laid as far as relationships with both the countries were concerned.

“When Tunisian Foreign Minister will come for the Joint Committee meeting in New Delhi sharper focus will be laid on matters identified during the current deliberations,” he added.

On the issue of terror, he said that they (North African countries) were themselves major victims.

“Terror is a menace which has to be curtailed by all at the world level and bilateral level.

Ansari said that as far as terrorism is concerned each country has to fight a battle, but at the same time it has to be kept in mind that terrorism is international and all countries have to be put in efforts, including exchange of information, to tackle it.

Asked if ISIS was attracting young people due to unemployment, he said they (Tunisia) are very well aware of the problem of young people having university degrees and not getting jobs.

Ansari said that jobs have to be created. “For that they have to come out of stagnation.They have to take steps to ensure that there is good business,” he added.

He said that several Indian companies, including Mahindra and Tata were doing business in Morocco and Tunis.

“Any company from outside working in a country means jobs for the locals even though personnel for specialised jobs can be brought from India,” he said.

Asked about the impact of IS and terrorism on Tunisia, Ansari said that Tunisia is a young democracy.

“Every democracy has own experience and challenges.I find that they are well aware of  democracy. They asked questions about our democracy and its functioning,” he said.

The Vice President said North Africa is in a category where we had not given much importance.

“Our attention helped Egypt. In Libya when situation was normal our people were going, but not now due to the situation prevailing over there,” he said.

“As a rising political and economic power which is focused on Africa they feel we can play an important role,” the Vice President said.

In a reply to a question on rewriting of history and culture, he said, “We don’t have to learn from anyone on protecting our culture and history. I do not want to rewrit my history. History cannot be whitewashed”.

Ansari said that you cannot have a time machine to rewind history.

“You can have an analysis like it is done in cricket matches where the performance is bad. Matches cannot be replayed. In a similar manner history, which is written by victors, cannot be rewritten,” he stressed.

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