* The Austrian EU Council Presidency expressed grave concern (15 March) with the events that took place in the West Bank on Tuesday. It asked for measures to restore calm and order and called upon both Israel and the Palestinian Authority to exercise restraint and carefully weigh the impact of their actions in order to avoid further escalation. The full Presidency statement can be found on: http://www.eu2006.at/en/News/CFSP_Statements/March/1503JerichoGaza.html
* External Relations and European Neighbourhood Policy Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner met with Palestinian Authority President in Strasburg (14 March) and discussed the situation in the Middle East. President Abbas then left to return to the Palestinian Territories due to the volatile situation that erupted after an Israeli raid of a prison in Jericho. His meetings and speech at the European Parliament were cancelled. Prior to the scheduled visit the European Commission had issued a press release (13 March) in which it assured the EU is a reliable partner to the Palestinians and reiterated the need for the new administration to renounce violence, recognise Israel and respect agreements. To see the press release click on:
* European Parliament President Josep Borrell had a brief meeting with the Palestinian Authority President before Mahmoud Abbas left (14 March) to return home. In a statement, President Borrell said violence undermines the effort to support Palestinians who are in favour of negotiated peace. To view the statement go to: http://www.europarl.eu.int/news/expert/alerte_page/6248-20060314ALT06247-14-03-2006-false/default_en.htm
* EU Council President, Chancellor Schüssel, discussed the situation in Palestine and the Middle East with the Palestinian Authority President, in Vienna (14 March). He said the EU supports Palestine and wishes to help the Palestinian people, but must have certain guarantees. He reiterated the need for the recognition of Israel and the laying down of arms. Compliance with international agreements must be guaranteed to permit work to continue on the basis of the road map, Schüssel said. President Mahmoud Abbas said he is in favour of standing by existing agreements and continuing the peace process with Israel. For the statements go to: http://www.eu2006.at/en/News/Press_Releases/March/1403SchuesselPalestine.html Austrian Foreign Minister Plassnik had a separate meeting with President Abbas, after which she stressed that those ready for democracy must also be ready to embrace non-violence. To view details go to: http://www.eu2006.at/en/News/Press_Releases/March/1403PlassnikAbbas.html
* The Austrian Foreign Minister and EU Council President reiterated Europe’s message to the Palestinian government in statements on the first day of the informal Foreign Minister’s meeting, (11 March) where the situation in the Middle East was discussed. Council President Ursula Plassnik said the EU’s message is one for non- violence, recognition of Israel’s right to exist and the fulfilment of existing agreements. Her statements can be found on:
* The implementation of the five-year work programme and the activities for promoting intercultural dialogue were discussed at the last meeting of the Euromed Committee (15th March). The Austrian Presidency announced its decision to prepare a report presenting the different cultural initiatives, taking into account the various proposals already submitted. The meeting also decided to nominate Mr Muhyieddeen Shaban TOUQ (Jordan) and Mr Lars BJARME (Sweden) as chairperson and vice chairperson of the Board of Governors of the Anna Lindh Foundation, respectively. This is a symbolic decision, as from now on the institution of the partnership dealing with cultural dialogue will be chaired by a representative from a Southern partner. The Euromed Committee meeting also heard a presentation by the Commission on the initiatives undertaken to tackle Avian Flu in the Mediterranean and on the urgent need to convene a migration expert meeting. Further presentations were also given on the project description paper for the Vienna Conference on “Xenophobia, Racism and the media” and on the Euromed Youth programme.
* The Euro-Med working group of the EPP-ED Group of the European Parliament organised a discussion on “Lebanon’s future one year after Rafik Hariri’s death” (March 8). Speakers said the destinies of people living in the Mediterranean are interconnected. It was also underlined that a fully sovereign Lebanon can play a role in the EuroMed Partnership and the European Neighbourhood Policy. For details on the discussion please click on: http://www.epp-ed.org/Press/showpr.asp?PRControlDocTypeID=1&PRControlID=4612&PRContentID=8356&PRContentLG=en
* European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso and External Relations and European Neighbourhood Policy Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner met with the Prime Minister of Morocco Dris Jettou (8 March). The discussion, at the European Commission headquarters in Brussels, focused on relations between the EU and Morocco.
* The Foreign Minister of Tunisia Abdelwahab Abdallah was in Brussels on the 8th of March for meetings with EU officials. He discussed relations between Tunisia and the EU with External Relations and European Neighbourhood Policy Commissioner Benita Ferrero Waldner and the High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy Javier Solana.
* Development Commissioner Louis Michel awards the 2005 Lorenzo Natali Prizes on March 10th. Three journalists from MEDA countries won awards. They are Anna-Marie Jazzar EL-Hage, from Lebanon, Mustafa El Menshawy, from Egypt, and Azeddine Bensouiah, from Algeria. For more information go to: http://europa.eu.int/rapid/pressReleasesAction.do?reference=IP/06/296&format=HTML&aged=0&language=EN&guiLanguage=en
PROGRAMMES & PROJECTS
* DISCUSSIONS CONCERNING FUTURE CBC PROGRAMMES IN ROME ON 7 AND 8 MARCH
A conference on the Cross-Border Cooperation programmes (CBC) of the future European Neighbourhood and Partnership Instrument (ENPI) was held 7-8 March in Rome. Organised by INTERACT on the initiative of the European Commission and under the supervision of the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, this conference, concerning the countries of the South and South-east of the Neighbourhood, followed up on the conference held in Helsinki in February relating to the North/East of the Neighbourhood and Russia. Four future CBC programmes were discussed, that is, the Multilateral Mediterranean programme (1), Multilateral Black Sea (2), Spain/Morocco (3), Italy/Tunisia (4). The content of the future cooperation programmes were presented as well as their implementing modalities. This event made it possible to bring together representatives of the Member States and the 14 countries of the Neighbourhood and Russia, as well as local players, in order jointly to discuss the CBC 2007-2013 planning. The conference was also the occasion for holding workshops specific to each of the four CBC programmes, in which the partners concerned were in a position to debate a concrete working schedule. For more information, contact EuropeAid-CBC@cec.eu.int
* THE SELF-TRAINING WORKSHOP “TORRENTIAL FLOODS IN THE MEDITERRANEAN” TOOK PLACE IN TUNIS FROM 6 TO 10 MARCH 2006
All the Mediterranean countries are continually confronted with the risk of floods that lead to several dozen victims each year as well as major damage there. Within the framework of the intermediary Euromed Civil Protection Programme (2005-2007), whose principal objective is to gradually build up an effective and sustainable Euro Mediterrean system for the reduction, prevention and management of natural or man-made disasters, a self-training workshop on floods took place in Tunis from 6 to 10 March 2006, with the participation of 20 experts representing 12 Mediterranean countries (Mediterranean Countries and Member States of the EU). In the course of this seminar, the areas at risk, the flood phenomena experienced in the Mediterranean, preventive and rapid alert measures (using new technologies as well as the operational management of major catastrophes) were examined by the participants. Likewise, returns on experience concerning floods in Morocco, Algeria, Lebanon, France, Germany and Tunisia, as well as a trip to the site of the Bou Salem floods allowed the participants to draw up recommendations that will be sent to the Civil Protection Services of the Mediterranean Countries shortly. Also discussed was the future Long-Term Programme (LTP) making it possible to support implementation of these strategies in the Mediterranean partner countries.
* REGIONAL GAS MARKET CO-OPERATION: OPENING OF THE EURO-ARAB MASHREQ GAS CO-OPERATION CENTRE.
The Euro-Arab Mashreq Gas Co-operation Centre (EAMGCC) has been launched on the 12th March by the Minister for Petroleum and Mineral Resources, Eng. Sufian Al-Alao, during the first meeting of the Steering Committee for the Euro-Arab Mashreq Gas Markets Project in Damascus. Part of a regional project funded by a €6 million grant from the EU and €1 million from the Governments of Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria, this new organisation aims at developing gas markets and infrastructure in the region and in forging stronger links with gas markets in the European Union. The project will contribute to the integration of gas markets in Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria, in order to create a regional market that will be linked to the EU internal gas market. The EAMGCC has been established in Damascus with liaison offices in Cairo, Amman and Beirut. The Centre will prepare a Gas Master Plan and Network Development Plan for the region, formulate recommendations for improving the legislative and regulatory framework for gas, and provide training and know-how transfer to people in the gas industry.
* LAUNCH OF THE SECOND AFKAR PROGRAMME FOR STRENGTHENING LEBANESE CIVIL SOCIETY
On Wednesday, 15 March, the Head of the Delegation of the European Commission to Lebanon, Mr Patrick Renauld, and the Minister of State for Administrative Reform, Mr Jean Oghassabian, signed the financing agreement for the second phase of the AFKAR programme for strengthening Lebanese civil society with a budget increased to € 3,000,000 in donations. Launched in 2004 as a pilot programme with a budget of € 1,000,000, AFKAR made it possible to demonstrate the ability of Lebanese civil society to intervene in the areas of respect for Human Rights, inter-community dialogue and the consolidation of the State of law. This new phase will make it possible to finance new projects aimed at the consolidation of the State of law, respect for and protection of fundamental rights and the promotion of greater civic involvement of Lebanese citizens. Projects can be proposed via a call for proposals that will be opened soon. For more information on this programme: www.omsar.gov.lb
* LAUNCH OF THE SECOND PROGRAMME OF SUPPORT TO ALGERIAN NGO ASSOCIATIONS II (2006-2009)
In the first programme “Appui aux associations algériennes de développement” (Support to Algerian development associations) (ONG/NGO I) launched in 2000, the focus was placed on training and supervising the management of the Algerian association movement. In fact the associations that received the support of the European Commission are involved in areas as varied as culture, social rights and the environment. Given the success that the NGO I programme met with, the Delegation of the European Commission to Algeria decided to launch a new programme entitled NGO II whose objective is to strengthen the operational abilities of the associations (in particular those that already benefited from subsidies from NGO I), to promote their joint activities by networking them and to provide sustained assistance to the Agence de Développement Social (ADS) with a view to setting up, in a sustainable way, a framework that would promote the creation and effective operation of associations and their participation in the social and cultural development of the country. The contribution of the European Commission will be 10 million euros, i.e. twice the contribution granted within the framework of NGO I. The programme will run until the end of December 2009.
For more information, see the Delegation’s site at the address: http://www.deldza.cec.eu.int
* FINANCE MINISTERS' MEETING: PRELIMINARY MEETING AT EXPERT LEVEL IN VIENNA ON 20 AND 21 MARCH 2006.
In tandem with the second Euro-Mediterranean ECOFIN Meeting, the EIB in cooperation with the Tunisian government and the EU Presidency will host the 6th Ministerial Meeting of EIB’s Facility for Euro-Mediterranean Investment and Partnership (FEMIP) in Tunis on 25 and 26 June 2006. It will be prepared for by a preliminary meeting at experts' level in Vienna on 20 and 21 March 2006. Set up as a think-tank, gathering delegates from Finance ministries, technical ministries, public institutions, private companies and academic circles, as well as from other financial institutions active in the region, the Experts Committee is charged with the task of putting forward practical and operational recommendations on sectoral issues of interest to the Mediterranean Partner Countries which FEMIP can help implement. On 20 March, the meeting will focus on improving the Business Climate in the region, particularly with a view to promoting Foreign Direct Investment. On 21 March, it will address the issue of the development of the Mediterranean energy markets, including the interlinking of inter-Mediterranean electricity markets and their integration with Europe, and how to better support renewable energy and energy efficiency in the region. For additional information, contact the information & press officer at EIB, Ms Helen Kavvadia: firstname.lastname@example.org
* CLOSING CONFERENCE OF THE EURO-MEDITERRANEAN SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY COOPERATION PROJECTS EURO-MEDANET/EURO-MEDANET2 IN PARIS ON 22 AND 23 MARCH 2006
The closing conference of the Euro-MedaNet/Euro-MedaNet2 projects organised by the Institut de Recherche et de Développement (IRD) will be held in Paris on 22 and 23 March 2006. The aim of this event is to review Euro-Mediterranean S&T cooperation, and lay the foundations for better coordinated and stronger cooperation for the future. A number of key players are expected to take part (political decision-makers, project coordinators, information points, national European contact points).
In particular, the Euro-MedaNet/Euro-MedaNet2 projects were financed by the INCO Programme under the title of the 6th Framework Programme for Research and Technological Development (6 FP). These projects will end with the inauguration of seven Information Points (InPs) on the Eastern and Southern rim of the Mediterranean. The role of these InPs will be to disseminate information about S&T cooperation opportunities financed by the European Commission. The InPs should also encourage a search for partnership between Europe and the Mediterranean. For information about this conference, consult the site: http://www.euromedanet.gr/
* REHABIMED ORGANIZES A TRAINING COURSE DIRECTED TO JUNIOR ARCHITECTS AND PROFESSIONALS INTERESTED IN THE REHABILITATION FIELD IN MOROCCO FROM 27-03-2006 UNTIL 03-04-2006
The RehabiMed project, part of Euromed Heritage aiming at strengthening rehabilitation and maintenance as factors of sustainable development by preserving the historical and cultural identity of traditional Mediterranean architecture, organises its third Rehabilitation and social action. Taking place in Marrakech, Morocco from 27-03-2006 to 03-04-2006, this seminar is directed towards junior Architects and professionals interested in the rehabilitation field. The training will be held in French.
For additional information on the seminar, please consult:
http://www.euromedheritage.net/resources/seminari_marroc.pdf and www.rehabimed.net or contact email@example.com
* CLOSING STAGES OF THE EUROMED HERITAGE II PROJECT: MEDITERRANEAN VOICES: OFFICIAL LAUNCHING OF THE INTERACTIVE WEBSITE IN LONDON ON THE 29TH MARCH 2006
The project “Mediterranean Voices: Oral History and Cultural Practice in Mediterranean Cities” aims at an ethnographic investigation into the cosmopolitan oral and social histories of 13 historic cites across the Mediterranean region, and in particular, certain urban quarters within them. The event “Mediterranean Voices: Past, Present & Future” marks the closing stages of this Euromed Heritage II Project and the launch of the multi-lingual interactive website and database www.med-voices.org. The meeting will take place at the Graduate Centre, in London Metropolitan University the 29th March 2006 from 17:30 to 21:00.
During the evening, the project will be showcasing the films and documentaries that have been created in and about partner cities and presenting some of the on-going work from around the Mediterranean.
There will be opportunities to meet members of the teams from the Med-Voices network, and to participate in a panel discussion about the practical applications of intangible heritage research, and ways in which the research and its outputs may be utilised in the future.
For information on the programm of this event, consult the site http://www.iictd.org/medvoices/londonevent/index.cfm or contact: Jonathan Karkut firstname.lastname@example.org
Brussels,03 21 2006