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Tunisia seeking new partners amid growing tensions with France and Europe

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Tunisia's pursuit of new partnerships reflects its desire to navigate a complex geopolitical landscape and safeguard its interests in an ever-evolving world order © Mena Today 

In search of new alliances, Tunisia has been exploring opportunities beyond its traditional partners in Europe, a move driven by a shifting geopolitical landscape and evolving economic interests.

Amid rising tensions with France and the European Union, Tunisia has been forging closer ties with China and Russia.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi's visit to Tunisia in mid-January marked a significant step in this evolving dynamic. Wang's tour of Africa has become an annual tradition since 1991, and this year, Tunisia was one of his key destinations.

During his two-day visit, Wang met with Tunisian President Kais Saied and held working sessions with his Tunisian counterpart, Nabil Ammar.

To commemorate the sixty-year-long relationship between Tunisia and China, the three leaders inaugurated the brand-new Tunis International Academy of Diplomacy, a state-of-the-art complex funded by a Chinese donation

This academy is designed to train future Tunisian and African diplomats and represents the latest in a series of Chinese-funded buildings and infrastructure projects in Tunisia.

These include the Sfax Hospital, cultural and sports centers in Ben Arous and El Menzah 6, and the National Archives building in Tunis.

Additionally, Chinese companies are involved in major projects such as the upcoming Bizerte Bridge, awarded to Sichuan Road and Bridge.

Tunisia, traditionally close to Europe and the United States, holds great potential for China's Belt and Road Initiative, which it joined in 2018.

China has expressed interest in the Port of Bizerte and a deep-water port project in Enfidha, south of Tunis, though no decisions have been made by the Tunisian government regarding these projects.

Beyond infrastructure, China's influence strategy has expanded in Tunisia in recent years with the establishment of a Confucius Institute in Tunis in 2018.

While Tunisia-China exchanges are less extensive than those with other Mediterranean countries like Algeria, Morocco, or Egypt, where Beijing has launched extensive investment programs, Tunisia's intention to strengthen ties with China is evident.

China is now Tunisia's fourth-largest trading partner, trailing behind France, Italy, and Germany.

Wang Yi's visit also aimed to "confirm the orientations of the country's foreign policy based on diversifying partners and opening up to new spaces," as stated by the Tunisian Ministry of Foreign Affairs in a pre-visit statement.

In late December, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov also visited Tunisia, advocating for enhanced cooperation between the two nations.

Tunisia's pursuit of new partnerships reflects its desire to navigate a complex geopolitical landscape and safeguard its interests in an ever-evolving world order.

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