The third instalment of the BratislavaCHAT debate series, organised by the Slovak Atlantic Commission (SAC), used the opportunity of the team of Tunisian third sector representatives visiting Bratislava under the Transfer of Know-How programme.

Following the afternoon expert debate with Miroslav Mizera,  advisor to the State Secretary of the Ministry of Defence of Slovakia, on the relationship between civil society and armed forces, the Tunisian third sector representatives, Ahmed Driss, director of the Centre of Mediterranean and International Studies in Tunis, Houda Haouami, civil activist with the Women and Progress Plus, and Houla Ben nejma from the Tunisian organization for penal and security reform, held a lively discussion on the latest developments in Tunisia with a pool of analysts, journalists and members of public.

The evening debate, moderated by Daniela Richterova of the SAC, was interspersed with personal memories among the panellists on 14 January 2011, when the former president of Tunisia Zine El Abidine Ben Ali fled the country following a month of protests.

On the surface, and compared to other Arab Spring countries such as Egypt and Libya, Tunisia was a success, according to one of the guests. However, the everyday reality does not give much hope to be optimistic as the moderate Islamist government is not interested in democracy but in preserving the power. One speaker noted that during the Ben Ali regime, the intellectual elite was convinced that there was no chance to change the regime and emphasized that most people in the country were now feeling the same as, from their point of view, nothing has change.

The Tunisian civil society representatives agreed that people need to be further educated and a culture of democracy have to be established. The problem is especially pronounced in rural areas where it is further exacerbated by persisting gender issues still being passed to new generation. Lastly, the question of transitional justice turned out to be the most divisive as speakers were split whether there should be some kind of national reconciliation. As one of the speakers noted, there were people responsible for persecuting others in the government, which was detrimental to proceeding down the path towards democracy.

The special visit of Tunisian third sector activists in Slovakia continued on Friday, when meeting withMartin Slivka, Spokesman of the Police Headquarters of the Slovak Republic, and Martin Pašiak from the Institute for Public Affairs Grigorij Mesežnikov.

The SAC Transfer of Know-How programme will further continue in strengthening the well-established cooperation with Tunisia in its future projects, expert visits and other activities.