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G8 Support for a Tunisian Plan

In response to the urgent situation in Tunisia and its coming participation to the G8 meeting to be held next week in France, I met with many of my peers from around the world to discuss what needed to be done by the international community to help save Tunisia.

Together with Jacques Attali, PlanetFinance; Christian de Boissieu, Université Paris-I; François Bourguignon, Paris School of Economics; Daniel Cohen, ENS; Jean-Paul Fitoussi, Sciences Po; Eiji Hattori, Reitaku University; Toshio KOIKE, Tokyo University; Rainer Klump, Centre of European Integration and International Economics; Wolfgang Koenig, Goethe Universtät; Jean-Hervé Lorenzi, Université Paris-Dauphine; Stefano Micossi, College of Europe; El Mouhoub Mouhoud, Dauphine; Olivier Pastré, IMBank; Richard Portes, London School of Economics; Jean-Louis Reiffers, Université du Sud; Helene Rey, London Business School; Nouriel Roubini, New York University; Joseph Stiglitz, Columbia University; Motoyuki Suzuki, Tokyo University; and Klaus F. Zimmermann, Bonn University, we came to the conclusion that without the immediate and sizable help from the international community, Tunisia will not survive. Since then, we've been circulating the below open letter to the G8 Ministers.

The Tunisian people have sparked the current democratic movements in the Arab World, giving a chance to the entire MENA region to reshape itself with the same order of magnitude than the fall of the Berlin Wall in Europe.

A Tunisian failure is not an option and would be a victory for all dictatorships in the region and lead to an export of extremism and a continued flow of refugees out of the region.

As nations, we have the collective responsibility to make the Tunisian democratic transition successful: the recent upheaval has already cost $2 billion to the economy. The year will end with a negative economic growth for 2011.

As economists, we know that investments pay off over the long-term. The new Tunisia has the potential to be one of the most attractive and fastest growing economic centers of the Mediterranean.

We all call upon the political leaders gathered at the G8 meeting to support a road map that would be proposed and led by Tunisia itself.

More precisely, we call for:

  • Immediate help for food and energy subsidies,
  • A G8 support in the amount of20 to 30 billion over the next 5 to 10 years to open up the country and the inland,
  • A clear statement detailing the timeframe in which financial institutions can act and partner with the development of the Tunisian economy,
  • A specific financial institution for the area. This would be a strong political signal as well as a guarantee of efficiency and transparency in the efforts of coordination,
  • A clear statement from the European countries that they will support Tunisia by obtaining the status of associate partner,
  • Mechanisms that will permit a better access to knowledge and more interactions between young people all around the Mediterranean Sea and beyond.

The plan we call for will insure that this grand experiment can succeed: its small size makes Tunisia the perfect experiment for democracy and a unique opportunity to prove that democracy can flourish harmoniously in the region. Its total cost is around 2 or 3% of the amounts raised by the former FRG for the German reunification or less than the cost of two months of war in Iraq. The international community cannot afford not to act.

I sincerely hope the international community will listen to our call and react quickly. The region is at an historical turning point and Tunisia should continue to successfully lead the way towards freedom and democracy.

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