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Cablegate: Robert Smolik Speaks On Good Governance And

VZCZCXRO7048
PP RUEHTRO
DE RUEHTU #1025/01 2121524
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 311524Z JUL 07
FM AMEMBASSY TUNIS
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 3588
INFO RUEHAD/AMEMBASSY ABU DHABI PRIORITY 0908
RUEHAS/AMEMBASSY ALGIERS PRIORITY 7507
RUEHEG/AMEMBASSY CAIRO PRIORITY 1461
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON PRIORITY 1329
RUEHNK/AMEMBASSY NOUAKCHOTT PRIORITY 0896
RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS PRIORITY 1803
RUEHRB/AMEMBASSY RABAT PRIORITY 8417
RUEHTRO/AMEMBASSY TRIPOLI PRIORITY 0122
RUEHCL/AMCONSUL CASABLANCA PRIORITY 4120
RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUCPDOC/USDOC WASHDC PRIORITY

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 TUNIS 001025

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

STATE FOR NEA/MAG (HARRIS), NEA/PI
NEA/PPD (SMITH, FINVER AND AGNEW)
PARIS FOR ARS (QUEEN, COWHER)

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV KPAO ECON KCOR TS
SUBJECT: ROBERT SMOLIK SPEAKS ON GOOD GOVERNANCE AND
ECONOMIC GROWTH


-------
Summary
-------

1. (U) During his three day visit (July 9-11) to Tunisia, FSO
and Diplomat-in-Residence Robert Smolik addressed a wide
range of audiences, including businesspeople, academics,
students, media, GOT officials, and members of civil society
groups on the topic of "Good Governance and Economic Growth."
Smolik's message supported two Mission Strategic Plan goals
-- Universal Human Rights Standards and Open and Growing
Markets -- and was enthusiastically received by both GOT and
civil society listeners. The speaking events also generated
several newspaper articles on the economic impact of
corruption, a topic rarely addressed in local media. The
visit provided an excellent starting point for future Embassy
activities in support of good governance. End Summary.

-----------------------
Court of Accountability
-----------------------

2. (SBU) In a roundtable meeting with the Court of
Accountability, the Tunisian equivalent of the Government
Accountability Office (GAO), Smolik stressed the importance
of transparency and accountability to good governance and
highlighted the critical role that the GAO plays in fighting
corruption in the United States. The audience of 20 included
judges from each of the Court's chambers. One commented that
this roundtable provided great ideas for future Court
activity on corruption. Participants were extremely
interested in ideas such as whistleblower protection and the
Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. The event was successful not
only in spreading a critical message to those with the
ability to take action, but it also opened the door for
future events and cooperation with the Court.

------------------------------------
Youth Chamber International - Sousse
------------------------------------

3. (U) Leaving the capital of Tunis for Sousse, Tunisia's
third largest city, Smolik addressed a group of 40 members of
the Sousse chapter of Youth Chamber International (JCI), a
group of current, and hopeful, entrepreneurs under the age of
40. Smolik's presentation helped to define and explain the
elements of good governance, such as transparency and
accountability, to a group of young people previously
unfamiliar with many of the concepts. While the JCI
membership focused on the application of good governance to
corporate governance, Smolik stressed that these principles
may be applied to the management of any institution --
including the government.

---------------------------------
National School of Administration
---------------------------------

4. (SBU) In an event organized by the Prime Ministry, Smolik
spoke to a class of 60 students completing their second year
of studies in government administration at the National
School of Administration (ENA). The audience, already
well-versed in the theory, relished the opportunity to debate
and discuss the linkages between good governance and economic
growth. COMMENT: Smolik's willingness to acknowledge that
even the United States must continue to improve governance
and fight corruption was critical to ensuring the message was
well-received by an audience destined to enter the Tunisian
civil service. END COMMENT.

-------------------------------------------
Tunisian Association of Higher Universities
-------------------------------------------

5. (SBU) Addressing an audience of 50 prominent
intellectuals, business people, and journalists, Smolik's

TUNIS 00001025 002 OF 002


presentation centered largely on corruption and its negative
economic impact. Discussions on the topic of corruption are
extremely rare, making this event notable for both its
frankness and for even focusing on the issue at all. The
event inspired an article in French daily Le Temps entitled
"Corruption and/or Growth," which incorporated the message of
Smolik's presentation and presented Transparency
International and World Bank statistics on the negative
impact of corruption.

------------------
Embassy Roundtable
------------------

6. (SBU) As part of the Embassy's monthly Human Rights
Roundtable series, Smolik facilitated a rousing discussion
between ten lawyers, journalists, and representatives of
political parties and NGOs. While several participants
questioned the direct connection between good governance and
economic growth, citing China as a counterexample, most
participants agreed that press freedom is critical to good
governance and several were outspoken in criticizing the lack
of freedom of expression and association in Tunisia.
Although the group disagreed on the connection between
economic growth and good governance, there was agreement that
there must be more opportunities for Tunisian civil society
to meet together and have debates such as this.

------
Impact
------

7. (SBU) Mr. Smolik's visit presented an excellent
opportunity to address two of the Mission Strategic Plan
goals -- Universal Human Rights Standards and Open and
Growing Markets -- and to reach a wide-ranging audience.
While human rights and democracy are often considered
off-limits, the topic of good governance was met with
enthusiasm rather than resistance. The events generated
articles in French-language dailies La Presse and Le Temps,
and in online economic magazine Webmanagercenter. In
addition, all groups expressed eagerness to host future
USG-sponsored speakers.

8. (U) The Embassy thanks both Robert Smolik and ARS Paris
for a successful and productive visit. Smolik's impressive
skill in facilitating discussion and tailoring his
presentation to each audience helped ensure that the message
hit the right target and advanced US foreign policy goals in
Tunisia.
GODEC

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