BRUSSELS - The EU hailed Tunisia's national dialogue mediators Friday after they won the Nobel Peace Prize, saying they had shown North Africa and Middle East a democratic path out of turmoil.
"The Nobel Peace Prize to the National Dialogue Quartet in Tunisia shows the way out of the crises in the region: national unity and democracy," EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini tweeted.
Since Tunisia's Jasmine Revolution in 2011 triggered the Arab Spring, the EU has stepped up support to the North African nation, giving aid and political backing and initiating trade talks.
The EU's top officials also visited Tunis earlier this year to back the fight against a growing Islamist militant threat after a deadly attack in a museum in the capital.
EU President Donald Tusk tweeted: "Congrats to National Dialogue Quartet for Nobel Prize. After visit to Tunisia in March I understand and respect (the) choice." European Parliament President Martin Schulz said the award was "hugely deserved" and said the EU "shares the pride of all Tunisians."
European Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstroem, who will visit Tunisia on Tuesday to initiate talks on a free-trade area, told AFP the Nobel was "well deserved."
"The Tunisian road to democracy has been a source of inspiration and hope for all of us. I look forward to personally conveying my congratulations when I visit Tunis next week," she added.
"We need keep working for closer ties between the EU and Tunisia, and to support the country's progress going forward. Closer trade relations plays an important role here."