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Euromed News

INSTITUTIONAL ACTIVITIES

* The European Parliament debates freedom of expression and respect for religious belief (15 February 2006). MEP’s discussed the issue in the wake of the cartoon controversy. There was wide agreement on the need to condemn violence, defend freedom of speech and also respect people’s freedom of belief. To read a press release issued by the European Parliament after the discussion click on: http://www.europarl.eu.int/news/expert/infopress_page/017-5266-46-2-7-902-20060214IPR05265-15-02-2006-2006--false/default_en.htm

* The European Commission President refers to the issue of the cartoons of prophet Mohammed in a speech to the plenary of the European Parliament. (15 February 2006). President Jose Manuel Barroso expressed respect for Islamic civilisations and said the Commission’s concern is not with the majority’s peaceful response to the cartoons, but the violent reactions of a minority. He defended freedom of speech and also stressed freedom of religion is not negotiable either. The Commission President underlined the need for dialogue based on tolerance and described violence as the enemy of dialogue. We must not allow the minority of extremists to win, he said. To read the Commission President’s speech see:
http://europa.eu.int/rapid/pressReleasesAction.do?reference=SPEECH/06/86&format=HTML&aged=
0&language=EN&guiLanguage=en

* European Commissioner for External Relations and European Neighbourhood Policy Benita Ferrero-Waldner emphasised the importance of interfaith and inter-cultural dialogue. In her remarks to the General Assembly of the European Jewish Congress (Vienna, 19 February 2006) she called for respect and understanding and said violent protests like the ones over the cartoons do not solve problems. She also referred to the Middle East Peace process, saying 2006 started with new opportunities but also dangers for the prospects of peace. There have been fundamental shifts in the political landscape in both the Palestinian Authority and Israel, the Commissioner said expressing the hope new vigour will be injected in the peace process. To read the Commissioner’s speech go to: http://europa.eu.int/rapid/pressReleasesAction.do?reference=SPEECH/06/104&format=HTML&aged=
0&language=EN&guiLanguage=en

* The 'cartoons controversy' was the subject of a long discussion and exchange of views at the Euromed Committee / Senior Officials meeting in Brussels on 22nd February. During the meeting EU High Representative for the CFSP Javier Solana informed about his recent trips to the region and the Commission shared information about the organisation of the 'Xenophobia and Racism in the Media' seminar due to take place in May in Vienna.

* EU High Representative for the CFSP Javier Solana went on a tour of the Middle East in the aftermath of the publication of caricatures of the Prophet Mohammed and the violent events that ensued. From 13 to 16 February 2006 he visited Saudi Arabia, Jeddah, Cairo, Jordan, the Palestinian Territories and Israel to review the situation and examine ways to promote dialogue. After his meeting with the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, the High Representative expressed full respect to the free and democratic choice made by the Palestinians. He assured the EU will not abandon the Palestinian people and will evaluate its position in the light of the incoming government’s actions. To read the remarks go to:
http://ue.eu.int/ueDocs/cms_Data/docs/pressData/
en/declarations/88440.pdf

* Remarks by EU High Representative for the CFSP Javier Solana on the Middle East and Iran (20 February – issued 22 February). Assessing his trip to the Middle East in the light of the cartoon crisis, described it as very fruitful and said that understanding of the positions of both sides is making headway. On the Palestinian – Israeli situation he reiterated that support to the Palestinian Authority until the new government is formed will continue, there will be continued support to the Palestinian people with no time limit and the situation will be analysed once the government is formed. To see the statements click on:
http://ue.eu.int/uedocs/cms_Data/docs/pressdata/en/declarations/88466.pdf

* Vice- President Franco Frattini, European Commissioner responsible for Justice, Freedom and Security talked on ‘press freedoms and responsibilities’ (Brussels, 20 February 2006). In a speech to the annual meeting of IFEX (International Freedom of Expression eXchange), the Commissioner defended the freedom of press, of expression and speech, including the right to critique, describing it as a non-negotiable key pillar on which the EU is founded. He also underlined the need to respect the freedom of religion and the way it is exercised. For the Commissioner’s speech see:
http://europa.eu.int/rapid/pressReleasesAction.do?reference=SPEECH/06/108&format=HTML&aged=
0&language=EN&guiLanguage=en

* Visit to Brussels of the Algerian Prime Minister, on the 22th February 2006. The Algerian Prime Minister, Ahmed Ouyahia, and Minister of Trade, Hachemi Djaaboub, met the European Commission on Wednesday. The visit aimed at relaunching the political dialogue between the EU and Algeria, at the highest level, in the light of the enforcement of the Association Agreement from last September. President Barroso underlined how strategic Algeria is for the EU, especially in the framework of securing energy supply. The anchoring of Algeria to Europe is a non-reversible process between the two partners. Consequently, the political dialogue shall be developed to the full potential of this privileged relationship. The first Association Council, scheduled for March 21st, will be a first concretete step in this reinforced relationship.

* The Secretary-General of the Arab League, Amre Musa, called on the EU to continue funding the Palestinian Authority. Speaking before the European Parliament's Foreign Affairs Committee on Wednesday (22 February), he also asked for the prevention of any insults to Islam in the future. The Committee's President replied this cannot be prevented because EU countries are free societies where individuals cannot be controlled. To read a Parliament press release on the discussion go to:
http://www.europarl.eu.int/news/expert/infopress_page/
030-5499-53-2-8-903-20060220IPR05453-22-02-2006-2006--false/
default_en.htm

PROGRAMMES & PROJECTS

* TV5 MONDE: THE TOPICAL ISSUE OF MIGRATION WILL BE DISCUSSED THIS COMING SUNDAY, 26 FEBRUARY, DURING A FRENCH-SPEAKING TV5 MONDE CHANNEL PROGRAMME CALLED KIOSQUE (5PM BRUSSELS TIME)
In the framework of the Information and Communication regional programme MEDA, EuropAid has been funding about twenty hours of TV programmes dedicated to the relationships between the European Union and Maghreb, since 2005. These programmes are produced by the French-speaking TV5 MONDE channel programme . In this framework, the next of edition of Kiosque will to be aired from Tanger, north of Morocco. Journalists from both the north and the south of the Mediterranean will express their views on migration, during a one hour debate coordinated by Philippe Dessaint. Reportages on the situation in Tanger and the views of the EU25 will also be screened during the programme. For further information on the programme, please check the TV5 website :
http://www.tv5.org/TV5Site/info/kiosque_sommaire.php

* MEDA REGIONAL PROJECT ‘ANIMA’: CONFERENCE IN PALERMO ON THE 20TH -21TH FEBRUARY 2006
In the framework of the MEDA regional project ‘ANIMA’, the euro-mediterranean network of IPAs, ICE, CONFINDUSTRIA, ABI, IPI and UMCE (Union of Mediterranean Confederations of Enterprises) are organising an event which will involve institutional and entrepreneurial Delegations from UMCE member countries and Libya and some 200 Italian companies (SMEs and relevant companies). It is organised with the support of the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Italian Ministry of Productive Activities, Regione Siciliana, Assemblea Regionale Siciliana, Città di Palermo and Provincia Regionale di Palermo. The Delegations of entrepreneurs from MEDA countries will include between 15-20 companies from each member state. The programme includes Country Presentations by participating IPAs as well as one-to-one business meetings with IPAs. More details on this event on: www.medproject.org and on the Anima project at http://www.animaweb.org

* LAUNCHING OF THE MEDA REGIONAL PROJECT DEDICATED TO THE TRAINING OF MEDA JOURNALISTS
The kick-off meeting of this project dedicated to the training of journalists from MEDA countries took place on the 21rst February 2006. This project is part of the regional information campaign in the Euro Meditarranean Partnership from the MEDA regional programme Information and Communication. The purpose of this contract is to reinforce the capacity of the written press and electronic media journalists from the MEDA countries, in order to help them increase coverage and production of information news and other material on the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership, the Association Agreements between the EU and the 10 MEDA partner countries, as well as on the various programmes and projects funded by the European Union in the region. The aim is to organise study visits, training sessions, and exchange programmes in the EU (mainly in Brussels) as well as in some of the capitals of the MEDA countries.

* LAUNCHING OF THE REGIONAL PROJECT “MOTORWAYS OF THE SEA » AIMED AT DEVELOPING MODAL TRANSFER
The European Commission launched the "Motorways of the Sea" project, on 16th January 2006, financed with 4.8 M EUR by the MEDA programme for a total duration of three years. It concerns the ten Mediterranean partners, namely Algeria, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, the Palestianian Territories, Syria, Tunisia and Turkey. This project aims to promote and demonstrate the potential of the "Motorways of the Sea" concept, as well as to encourage the development of intermodal transport in the region, mainly through the setting up of pilot projects in the relevant sectors. These Motorways of the Sea pilot projects should contribute to modal transfer and to intermodal integration through land connections and land-sea platforms. As such, this project should address the priority given to the Motorways of the Sea by the High Level Group on the extension of the Trans-European Networks, chaired by Mrs de Palacio, and reaffirmed in the conclusions of the first Euro-Med Ministerial Transport Conference, held in Marrakech last December.

* KICK-OFF MEETING OF THE EUROMED AUDIOVISUAL II PROGRAMME ON THE 9TH TO 11TH MARCH 2006, IN RABAT
The first meeting of the partners of the «Audiovisuel II » Euromed programme will be held in Rabat on the 9,10 and 11 March 2006, by EuropeAid and the EC delegation to Morocco. This project is part of the Euro-Mediterranean Regional Programme of the European Commission, aiming at enhancing audiovisual co-operation between Europe and the MEDA countries and developing, distributing and promoting Mediterranean movies in Europe and within the 10 MEDA partners.
During the meeting, the programmes managers of the 12 selected projects will present their activities based on priorities defined by audiovisual professionals of the Mediterranean and dedicated specifically to helping the development and writing of scenarios, the promotion of Mediterranean works (?? WHAT KIND/films, documentaries etc), training of young professionals from the Mediterranean, technical support to the development of legislation and support to the distribution of the movies in the EU and the MEDA countries and to the running of movie theaters.
For further information, please contact : info@euromedaudiovisuel.net

* KICK-OFF WORKSHOP OF THE SMAP III PROGRAMME "INTEGRATED COASTAL ZONE MANAGEMENT (ICZM)
The European Commission Delegation in Cairo and the SMAP III Technical Assistance team organised the kick-off workshop of the SMAP III Programme on "Integrated Coastal Zone management (ICZM)” on February 22-23 rd. The goal is to enhance the awareness of SMAP III objectives and activities and to inform about all ICZM actions plan projects funded under SMAP III. It also aimed at initiating the regional networking and cross-fertilisation process between SMAP III TA project and the UNEP/MAP project.

Brussels,02 28 2006
Rédaction
European Union
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