On Wednesday we had the opportunity to welcome Wacef Chiha, the Tunisian Ambasssador in Spain, to Schiller’s Madrid campus. Arranged by Schiller’s own Dr. Rafe Jabari, his Excellency Wacef Chiha led the conference on the Tunisian transition towards democracy, in which he described the history of the country and key aspects of this movement.
Ambassador Chiha started the conference by briefly describing the current situation in Tunisia, a country that has achieved passing the most progressive constitution of the Arabic world, and that is currently moving towards empowering women and Tourism as leading factors to secure an open democracy.
While describing the nation’s history, Ambassador Chiha was resolute, “the only element that has proven to be successful when starting democracy is education,” where other countries try imposing this by force, it is by wisdom and knowledge that truly creates a lasting change in society. This can be seen since the country’s early days and was key when gaining independence from France, which was less traumatic than those of its neighboring countries because it was based on negotiation rather than fought for.
Tunisia’s constitution of 2014 was a great achievement when solidifying a quorum between political parties, Islamic and Laic. Being accepted by all parties stated the importance of a civil state separating religion from its governance and creating the opportunity for an open democratic state.
When describing the country’s current situation, the Ambassador was confident that this transition has helped strengthening its relations to Europe, Spain in particular, giving way to a growing Tourism sector.
We are extremely grateful for Ambassador Chiha’s chat, and all the diplomats and ministers present at the conference together with the Madrid Campus Director, Isabel Campbell, and Schiller’s President, Dr. Alonso Manuel Puig. This was an amazing opportunity to gain insight into the evolving democracy in North Africa and how this will impact international relations between Spain and Tunisia.