Activists on social networks have been circulating a video clip showing Taboubi, secretary-general of the Tunisian General Labour Union during an interview with Tunisian French-language newspaper La Presse in which he said that “an agreement was made giving the Turkish side a reduction of about 65% in the concession to exploit Enfidha-Hammamet International Airport by scheduling its debts.”
“With this agreement, which unfortunately was buried in total secrecy, it was as if we gave Enfidha Airport away to the Turks for free,” added Taboubi in a statement to the newspaper’s website.
Taboubi said he called for an investigation into the circumstances of the agreement and to hold accountable those who unilaterally took the decision without consultations with the people’s deputies.
In a statement issued November 12, the ministry of transport said negotiation with the Turkish operator was “built on the fundamental principle of preserving the rights of the Tunisian state in order to avoid any dispute with investors leading to international arbitration.”
It also called on all parties to “avoid the dissemination of false information”. The ministry did not however discuss the details raised by Taboubi.
In 2007, the Turkish TAV Holding Group won the tender for the construction of the airport. Under Tunisian President Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali’s rule, the group was granted the exclusive privilege of operating it for four decades. TAV created a subsidiary in Tunis, TAV Tunis, to manage the airport.
Following the toppling of the Ben Ali regime, major changes in the power structure in Tunisia occurred and successive governments, driven by the Islamist Ennahda Movement, leaned on officials to favour Turkish partners through deals that had negative repercussions on the local economy.
Analysts said Tunisia is risking a lot in the venture, especially because many blame the governments during the past nine years, of which Ennahda was a member, for the country’s economic slowdown.
Taken from an article by Riadh Bouazza