Tunisian president Moncef Marzouki condemned the assassination of his country's opposition leader Chokri Belaïd in Tunis on Wednesday morning in a speech to MEPs. "This is a threat, a letter being sent to us," he said. "We reject that letter and continue to unmask the enemies of the revolution." EP president Martin Schulz expressed condolences to the Belaïd family and the Tunisian people, confident that "Tunisian authorities will do everything necessary to bring those responsible to justice".
In his speech at the EP on 6 February, Mr Marzouki also discussed his country's transition to a modern democracy in the wake of the Arab Spring. "Tunisia is the true laboratory of transition and is determined to succeed (although) the process of democratisation has proven to be more difficult and a longer process that originally envisaged."
He also said there was no reason to fear an Islamic winter following the Arab Spring: "Arab revolutions are not nationalists or xenophobic revolutions." However, he admitted there was a problem with young people flooding to Europe in search of a better life and warned of the threat of Islamic extremism.
Tunisia is seen as the birthplace of the Arab Spring uprisings after the self-immolation of young street vendor Mohamed Bouazizi led to widespread protests. Mr Bouazizi was later posthumously awarded Parliament's Sakharov Prize in 2011 together with four other Arab Spring activists in recognition of the struggle for dignity, basic freedoms and political change in the Arab world.
Mr Marzouki was elected president of Tunisia by the Constituent Assembly on 12 December 2011. Tunisia will hold legislative and presidential elections in June.