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* “With its offer to develop an international financing mechanism to channel humanitarian assistance to the Palestinians, the EU has affirmed its active role in the Middle East and its commitment to finding constructive solutions”, Foreign Minister Plassnik commented on her return from the meeting with the Quartet members USA, Russia and the United Nations in New York on 9 May 2006. “We are by no means indifferent to the fate of the Palestinians. At the same time it must be clear: we call on Hamas not to abdicate their responsibility towards the people who elected them”, the Minister added. In this context, she also described the meeting of the Quartet with the foreign ministers of Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Jordan as particularly useful. The three Arab foreign ministers reported on their efforts to exert influence on the Hamas government in terms of the Arab League initiative for peace with Israel. For the full press release: http://www.eu2006.at/en/News/Press_Releases/May/1005QuartettFinanzierung.html and for the Quartet Statement: http://www.consilium.europa.eu/uedocs/cms_Data/docs/pressdata/en/declarations/89495.pdf

* The Euromediterranean Parliamentary Assembly (EMPA) reiterates its warning against the chaos which would result from cutting aid to Palestinian people. The President of the European Parliament, Josep Borrell attended the EMPA Bureau meeting in Tunis on 6 May. Following a detailed discussion of the plight of the Palestinian people, and the EU decision to suspend aid to the Palestinian Authority, the Bureau reiterated its concerns about the impact of funds being cut. "In March 2006, the EMPA adopted a clear position by consensus, warning against the chaos which would result from cutting aid to Palestinian people and withholding customs revenues. In Tunis, the Bureau reiterated this position, and I hope that the European Parliament will take a position on this issue following the visit of Mahmoud Abbas next week", stated President Borrell. The Bureau also engaged in a wide-ranging discussion on human rights in which the President raised the status of the Tunisian Human Rights League, which continues to face severe restrictions in attempting to carry out its work. http://www.europarl.europa.eu/president/defaulten.htm

* The EU welcomes the amnesty issued by Algerian President Bouteflika on the occasion of World Press Freedom Day (3rd May) on behalf of convicted journalists. This measure constitutes a positive signal as regards the willingness of the Algerian leadership to respect the freedom of the press. The EU hopes that this measure will be followed by a change in the practice of the application of the law on defamation in order to bring it in line with Algeria’s obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Declaration of EU Parliament President: http://www.europarl.europa.eu/president/defaulten.htm?home / EU Council press release: http://www.consilium.europa.eu/uedocs/cms_Data/docs/pressdata/en/cfsp/89446.pdf

* Vienna Declaration on Security Partnership. Internal security between the EU and its neighbours was discussed at the Ministerial Conference held on 4-5 May 2006 in Vienna, Austria. Representatives from more than 50 countries and international organisations including neighbouring Arab countries participated in the conference. To address common and current security challenges, the participants expressed their wish to develop a “Partnership for Security” based on mutual trust and common interest. The Conference especially emphasized the coherent framework offered by the European Neighbourhood Policy for cooperation on security-related matters in line with common international standards. Concrete measures and actions have been identified in three priority areas: combating terrorism, organised crime and corruption, and migration. The Partnership for Security should be implemented through initiatives based on a differentiated approach to individual countries and regions, including a needs assessment. More information: http://www.eu2006.at/en/News/Press_Releases/May/viennadeclaration.html

* The Cross-Border Cooperation (CBC) component is an innovative feature of the European Neighbourhood and Partnership Instrument (ENPI) which will establish “joint programmes” bringing together eligible regions of Member States and Partner Countries. During the CBC meeting on 24, 25 and 26 April 2006 in Brussels, the implementation rules and programming guidelines were discussed. The programming has now officially started and within the next weeks the following deadlines have been set: 15 May for the confirmation of the missing national Contact Points and for the appointment of the drafting Joint Task Force and working groups; and 30 May for the choice of the Joint Managing Authority (JMA). The first joint Task Forces meeting on various programmes, among which the Mediterranean and Black Sea basins, will be chaired by the EC and are scheduled in June 2006. Information is available on the CBC website: http://ec.europa.eu/comm/europeaid/projects/enpi_cross_border/index_en.htm and the draft Guidelines for preparing CBC Programmes under the ENPI are available online: http://ec.europa.eu/comm/europeaid/projects/enpi_cross_border/documents/cbc_programming_guidelines_final_avril2006_en.pdf


* 7TH EDITION OF THE EUROPEAN CULTURAL FESTIVAL IN ALGERIA, 9-31 MAY 2006, ALGIERS. For the 7th consecutive year, the Delegation of the European Commission in Algeria launches its Festival on 9 May, Europe day. This event which is organised in close cooperation with the Member States of the European Union represented in Algeria became a significant cultural meeting point. During three weeks, more than one hundred European and Mediterranean artists will present Europe’s cultural unity and diversity to the increasing Algerian public (more than 15,000 people attended the last festival) through activities combining traditional and ethnic music, jazz, opera, theatre, songs and exhibitions. For more information see the complete programme on the site of the Delegation: www.deldza.cec.eu.int

* SEMINAR ON THE INTERNATIONAL DIMENSION OF FINANCIAL PROCEDURES: FINANCIAL AND ECONOMIC CRIMINALITY, IN PARTICULAR MONEY LAUNDERING, 15-18 MAY 2006, BRUSSELS. The overall objective of the regional MEDA programme “EuroMed Justice Programme” is to create an inter-professional community of magistrates, lawyers and court registrars in the framework of an open and modern justice service, strengthening the rule of law and the effective pursuit of Human Rights. The current seminar on “Exchange of non judicial information and its procedural use” is the second of four seminars falling under the third topic of the Euro-Med Justice Programme. During this seminar, participants will work on International and European conventions as well as national law, and they will discuss in open debates and working groups the ways to improve judicial mutual assistance in this field. The seminar will be conducted in English, French and Arabic and will include case studies, where officials from the EU Member Sates and Mediterranean Partners will share their experiences in the areas covered. More information: http://www.eipa.nl/index.asp?option=EuroMedJustice

* EMWIS STEERING COMMITTEE MEETING ON 15 MAY 2006 IN NICE, FRANCE The 9th Meeting of the “Euro-Mediterranean Information System on the know-how in the Water sector –EMWIS” Steering Committee is held within the framework of the regional MEDA programme on local water management. 13 countries (EU member States as well as Mediterranean partner countries) are represented in the Committee. During this meeting, the participants will define the thematic priorities of EMWIS for the period 2007-2010 and the terms of reference of the Feasibility Study for the Mediterranean Water Observatory will be discussed. Other topics on the agenda are the progress of EMWIS in the current year and the preparation of the Euro-Med Water Directors meeting to be held in Greece during the Autumn 2006. The synergies with Med-EUWI and the Joint process WFD/EUWI will be also discussed. For further information, please visit EMWIS web site: http://www.emwis.org http://www.emwis.org/documents/html/9th_s_c__'06.htm

* EUROMED MARKET CLOSING CONFERENCE, 16 MAY 2006, BRUSSELS. Stakeholders of the MEDA funded EuroMed Market Regional Programme for the promotion of the Instruments and Mechanisms of the EuroMed Market, will meet on 16 May to take stock of the programme’s third phase. This closing conference will bring together EuroMed Market’s national focal points, senior officials from ministries and other institutions involved in the programme, as well as representatives of the European Commission. Each of the ten Mediterranean Partners will present an evaluation of EuroMed Market’s third phase, which saw a large number of regional and intra-regional information and training seminars on EU legislation in internal market related areas designed to continue preparation work for the Euro-Mediterranean Free Trade Area. http://www.euromedmarket.org

* MEETING OF EUROCITIES EUROMED WORKING GROUP, 1-2 JUNE 2006, FÈS, MOROCCO. During this meeting which will be held at the Palais des Congrès in Fes, the progress of the Group’s initiatives will be discussed, as well as new cooperation projects within the framwork of the MED-PACT programme (“Local Authorities Partnership Programme in the Mediterranean”), training stages within the context of bilateral exchanges, and the promotion of dialogue in the Mediterranean region. The meeting is open to elected representatives of Local Authorities members of the Working Group EUROMED. Registration is required and forms can be obtained at “Objectif Maroc”: objectif_najat@menara.ma or objectif_samira@menara.ma or at the Euromed Office, International Affairs Department, City of Torino: euromed@comune.torino.it For more information on Eurocities: http://www.eurocities.org/main.php

* FIRST BOARD MEETING OF THE ANNA LINDH EURO-MEDITERRANEAN FOUNDATION FOR THE DIALOGUE BETWEEN CULTURES, 27 APRIL 2006, BRUSSELS. The Jordanian President of the Anna Lindh Foundation, Dr. Muhyeddeen Shaban Touq called upon all 35 Governments of the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership to support and activate the national networks of the Anna Lindh Foundation. “Series of concrete and visible activities to address commonalities between our cultures and to build understanding and respect for differences should be developed”, the President said. The Board approved the proposal to establish an ad-hoc committee of experts from both shores of the Mediterranean in order to develop a list of “the main misconceptions that exist about both Western and Islamic civilizations”. Further information: www.euromedalex.org

* 13TH EDITION OF THE BIENNIAL OF YOUNG ARTISTS FROM EUROPE AND THE MEDITERRANEAN, 10 - 20 JULY 2007, ALEXANDRIA, EGYPT. For the first time, the “Biennale of Young Artists from Europe and the Mediterranean (BJCEM)” will be held outside Europe, in the South of the Mediterranean. This multi-disciplinary artistic event will involve workshops, exhibitions and shows in the fields of visual, applied and performance art, film, literature and poetry, architecture, gastronomy, and music. The emphasis will be on cultural diversity and religious pluralism as common wealth, rather than a threat. During the ten-day festival, Alexandria will receive up to 1000 young artists from more than forty countries of Europe and the Mediterranean, and the public spaces of the city will come alive with the creations of young artists. The events are open to all and will be organized by the BJCEM, the Governorate of Alexandria, the Anna Lindh Foundation, the Bibliotheca Alexandrina. A public call for participation will be launched in the Autumn of 2006 in all the participating countries. Further information can be found on: www.bjcem.org and www.bibalex.org and www.euromedalex.org

Brussels,05 15 2006
European Union
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