Minister Baird Concludes Successful Visit to Morocco and Tunisia

December 13, 2012 - Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird today wrapped up a working visit to Morocco and Tunisia that saw him attend the Friends of the Syrian People ministerial meeting and the G-8-BMENA Forum for the Future.

In Morocco, Baird announced a doubling of humanitarian aid and repeated Canada’s call for the effective implementation of targeted sanctions against the Assad regime, enhanced diplomatic pressure on the regime’s few remaining allies and broader efforts to isolate it in a concerted effort to end the war and bring justice, freedom and dignity to the Syrian people.

Baird met with representatives of the new National Coalition of Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces and encouraged them to continue to reach out to all sectors of the Syrian opposition, especially within Syria, and to all of Syria’s diverse communities. He also called on them to put forth a concrete vision for a post-Assad political transition.

In Tunisia, Baird met with President Moncef Marzouki, Prime Minister Hamadi Jebali and Foreign Minister Rafik Abdessalem to reiterate Canada’s commitment to working with Tunisia in its transition to democracy and to discuss the constitution-drafting process, good governance and human rights.

At the G-8 Broader Middle East and North Africa (BMENA) Forum for the Future, Baird helped to expand ties between G-8 countries and the Arab world, as well as ties with important civil society partners. While the forum strongly condemned Iran’s human rights record, Baird was deeply disappointed that it did not similarly condemn the regime’s obfuscation of its nuclear program by blocking international attempts to verify claims.

Baird advanced Canadian values, such as religious freedom, women’s empowerment and freedom of expression, in the Arab world. He also used the meeting to increase international scrutiny of the situations in Iran and Syria.

While in Tunisia, Baird met with Leila Bouazizi, to wish her good luck with her studies in Canada. The desperate act of Leila’s brother, Mohamed Bouazizi, on December 17, 2010, sparked the Tunisian revolution and the Arab uprisings.

Baird also visited the Massicault War Cemetery, where he laid a wreath to honour the Canadian soldiers buried there following the defeat of the Axis powers by a combined Allied force in 1943.

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