Re­gional in­sti­tu­tions meet­ing in Val­letta col­lec­tively back MED FO­RUM 2016 agenda

Malta Independent - - NEWS -

Re­gional in­sti­tu­tions work­ing for a re­newed Mediter­ranean Dia­logue agenda in the face of un­prece­dented re­gional chal­lenges have com­mit­ted to col­lec­tive ac­tion ahead of next month’s MED FO­RUM in Malta, the largest gath­er­ing of civil so­ci­ety and youth for in­ter­cul­tural dia­logue.

This week’s meet­ing, hosted at the Mal­tese Min­istry for For­eign Af­fairs (MFA), was the lat­est in a series of an in­ter-in­sti­tu­tional process which is in­volv­ing for the first time the EU (ex­ter­nal af­fairs and cen­tral ser­vices), the League of Arab States head­quar­ters, the Sec­re­tar­iat of the Union for the Mediter­ranean (UfM), MEDAC, the MFA of Malta, and the Anna Lindh Foun­da­tion in­ter­na­tional head­quar­ters.

MFA’s Al­fred Zarb, a found­ing se­nior of­fi­cial of the EuroMediter­ranean process in 1995, opened the meet­ing by un­der­lin­ing the im­por­tance of lev­er­ag­ing next month’s 42-coun­try MED FO­RUM to now “bring the Euro-Med project to cit­i­zens across the re­gion.” Ex­ec­u­tive Di­rec­tor of the EU Pres­i­dency unit Vic­tor Camil­leri re­in­forced the cen­tral­ity of the Fo­rum to re­con­nect cit­i­zens ahead of the first Mal­tese Pres­i­dency of the Euro­pean Coun­cil (first se­mes­ter 2017), with ev­i­dence of a grow­ing gap be­tween cit­i­zens and in­sti­tu­tions, and the im­por­tance of “youth as a trans­ver­sal agent for change” in the face of ex­trem­ism and shared so­cioe­co­nomic chal­lenges.

The in­ter-in­sti­tu­tional meet­ing fo­cused on the fi­nal pro­gramme agenda for next month’s gath­er­ing, with the Ex­ec­u­tive Di­rec­tor of the Anna Lindh Foun­da­tion, Hatem Atal­lah, un­der­lin­ing how the MED FO­RUM process has al­ready been “a cat­a­lyst for col­lab­o­ra­tion” among the re­gional or­gan­i­sa­tions and global net­works, at a time when “the com­mon re­gional chal­lenges are greater than the in­di­vid­ual or­gan­i­sa­tions fac­ing them”. He also stated that the Fo­rum would be a “com­ing of age” for the Foun­da­tion as the re­gion’s ref­er­ence point for in­ter­cul­tural dia­logue, and a mile­stone to launch a new chap­ter of strate­gic pro­gram­ming for in­ter­cul­tural ac­tion.

Eleonora In­salaco, co­or­di­na­tor of the MED FO­RUM task-force and pro­grammes man­ager at the Foun­da­tion’s head­quar­ters, pre­sented the Fo­rum agenda which has been built through a unique 8-month pro­gram­ming process in­volv­ing in­ter­cul­tural ex­perts, na­tional civil so­ci­ety co­or­di­na­tors, youth sec­tor rep­re­sen­ta­tives and re­gional in­sti­tu­tions. She also con­firmed that 600 in­ter­na­tional del­e­gates from all 42 Mem­ber States of the Union for the Mediter­ranean (UfM) are reg­is­tered for next month’s gath­er­ing, among them heads of in­ter­na­tional or­gan­i­sa­tions in­clud­ing UN­ESCO, the Or­gan­i­sa­tion for Se­cu­rity and Co­op­er­a­tion in Europe (OSCE), the World Lead­er­ship Al­liance-Club de Madrid, UfM, Friends of Europe, and Search for Com­mon Ground.

The lat­est in­ter-in­sti­tu­tional meet­ing in Val­letta had a par­tic­u­lar fo­cus on new ar­eas of re­gional pol­icy and pro­gram­ming to be launched through MED FO­RUM 2016 and dur­ing the Mal­tese EU Pres­i­dency. The rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the EU’s Ex­ter­nal Ac­tion Ser­vice (EEAS) un­der­lined at the meet­ing the im­por­tance of now trans­lat­ing into ac­tion the re­newed pol­icy im­pe­tus for dia­logue and peo­ple-to-peo­ple co­op­er­a­tion, as ex­pressed in the new EU Neigh­bour­hood Pol­icy, In­ter­na­tional Cul­tural Re­la­tions strat­egy, and first Global Strat­egy launched this month by the EU High Rep­re­sen­ta­tive for For­eign Af­fairs and Se­cu­rity Pol­icy. It has also been pro­posed to lever­age the large-scale civil so­ci­ety gath­er­ing to pre­pare the first Min­is­te­rial Meet­ings on In­ter­cul­tural Dia­logue and Youth at the UfM level.

MED FO­RUM 2016 is tak­ing place at the Mediter­ranean Con­fer­ence Cen­tre (MCC) in Val­letta, from 23 to 25 Oc­to­ber. For fur­ther in­for­ma­tion, con­tact MedFo­rum@an­nalind­hfoun­da­tion.org.

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