* Presidency conclusions on the Middle East Peace Process and Lebanon, during the European Council in Brussels on 15-16 June 2006. The European Council endorsed the proposed temporary international mechanism to channel assistance directly to the Palestinian people, which has been drawn up by the Commission. It called on all Palestinian political forces to engage in a national dialogue, to end the inter-Palestinian confrontation and to establish law and order. The European Council also called on Israel to desist from any action that threatens the viability of an agreed two-state solution and from acts that are contrary to international law. Of particular concern are settlement activities, the construction of the barrier on Palestinian land and activities in and around East Jerusalem as well as in the Jordan Valley. It stressed the fact that the European Union will not recognize any change to the pre-1967 borders other than those agreed to by both sides. The importance of freedom of movement was underlined and both parties were urged to take concrete steps to implement their obligations under the Agreement on Movement and Access, in order to alleviate the worsening situation in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. In its declaration on Lebanon, the European Council reaffirmed the importance of sovereignty, territorial integrity, unity and independence and reiterates its call for Security Council Resolution 1559 to be implemented in full. It welcomed the adoption of Resolution 1680, particularly as regards the delineation of the Syrian-Lebanese border. In this context, it called upon Syria to grasp the hand offered by the Lebanese government following the agreements emerging from the Lebanese national dialogue. The European Council further urged the Lebanese government to undertake the agreed economic and political reforms, so that the international conference to support Lebanon can be held as soon as possible. The implementation of the action plan concluded in the framework of the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) will assist the reform process in the country. Among other topics, the Council also tackled security and justice matters, and cooperation on migration being an important part of the ENP, it recalled the Barcelona Action Plan engagement to hold a EuroMed Ministerial Meeting on Migration Management. Conclusions: http://www.consilium.europa.eu/ueDocs/cms_Data/docs/pressData/en/ec/90111.pdf
* Recalling its statements of January 30 and May 9, and mindful of the needs of the Palestinian people, the Quartet (EU, US, UN and Russia) endorsed a European Union proposal for a temporary international mechanism on 17 June 2006. The mechanism facilitates needs-based assistance to the Palestinian people, including essential equipment, supplies, and support for health services, support for the uninterrupted supply of fuel and utilities, and basic needs allowances to poor Palestinians. The Quartet expressed its hope that other donors, international organizations, and the State of Israel would consider participation in this mechanism. The Quartet will review the continued need for such a mechanism after three months. Donors are also encouraged to respond to humanitarian and other assistance requests by international organizations, especially UN agencies, active in the West Bank and Gaza. At the request of the Quartet, Commissioner for External Relations, Benita Ferrero-Waldner has immediately spearheaded efforts to develop this temporary international mechanism. To this end, during her visit to Israel and the Palestinian Territories on 19-20 June 2006, she met with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, as well as with Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas and other leading figures on both sides but. Moreover, the EU recently held a successful Association Council meeting with Israel in Luxembourg. As well as political issues, the meeting focused on the early successes of the EU-Israel Joint Action Plan under the Neighbourhood Policy which is playing an important part in deepening the bilateral relationship. Quartet declaration: http://www.consilium.europa.eu/ueDocs/cms_Data/docs/pressData/en/declarations/90137.pdf.
Press release: http://europa.eu/rapid/pressReleasesAction.do?reference=IP/06/792&type=HTML&aged=0&language=EN&guiLanguage=en
* “We can only meet the challenges of the 21st century together” said Austrian State Secretary Hans Winkler at the Committee on Foreign Affairs of the European Parliament in Brussels on 20 June 2006. “The last six months of our Council Presidency have clearly shown what a potential the European Union has to meet the great foreign-policy challenges of the 21st century. To do this, however, we must all pull together and subordinate our national states to a European perspective. European foreign and security policy is in a better state today than it was a while ago. After countless storms, we have once again been able to create the spirit of community necessary to solve the great questions and problems. Foreign Minister Plassnik has been able, during these six months as Council President, to strengthen the unity of the EU Member States in the Council, in difficult questions such as the problems of Iran and the Middle East”. Press release: http://www.eu2006.at/en/News/Press_Releases/June/2006WinklerEP.html
* The President of the European Parliament Josep Borrell welcomes the release of Algerian journalist Mohamed Benchicou on 15 June 2006: "I very much welcome the release yesterday morning of Mohamed Benchicou, publisher of the daily Le Matin, after serving the full two years of his prison sentence" Mr. Borrell said. He nonetheless reiterated his regret that, unlike some of his fellow journalists, Mr. Benchicou was not granted a presidential pardon by President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, particularly as this matter was raised during his visit in Algiers last March 2006. He also draw attention to the European Parliament's resolution of 9 June 2005 urging "the Algerian authorities to adopt and implement without delay the necessary legislative measures to ensure the greatest respect for fundamental rights and, in particular, full respect for the freedom of the press, in accordance with the international agreements which Algeria is a party", and calling for "the effective decriminalisation of infringements of the press laws". Press release: http://www.europarl.europa.eu/president/defaulten.htm
* The EU expresses concern at the events surrounding the obstruction of the 6th congress of the Tunisian Human Rights Ligue of on 27-28 May 2006 in Tunis. The EU hopes that the Ligue will be able to resume its normal functions as soon as possible and regrets that European representatives, notably European Parliament representative Mrs. Helène Flautre, have been subjected to harassment by the security forces. The EU expects that the EU-Tunisia Sub-Committee on human rights and democratisation will be established as soon as possible and that Tunisia will respond favourably to the proposals made by the European Commission in this regard. The EU has raised this matter with the Tunisian Foreign Minister in Tunis on 5 June 2006. In its statement before the European Parliament on 13 June 2006, the Austrian Presidency of the EU has also reiterated the importance the EU attaches to the implementation of Tunisia’s commitments to the protection of human rights, good governance and democracy in the framework of the European Neighbourhood Policy Action Plan. Press release: http://www.eu2006.at/en/News/Press_Releases/June/1606Tunisia.html
* Following steps taken by the Presidencies of the Council between September 2005 and May 2006 and after Tunisia's appointment to the presidency of the Euro-Mediterranean Parliamentary Assembly on 1 April 2006, the European Parliament (EP) adopted a resolution on the human rights situation in Tunisia, on 15 June 2006. Tunisia committed itself to promoting democracy and respect for fundamental freedoms under the action and in accordance with the EU-Tunisia Association Agreement, human rights form an essential component of EU relations with Tunisia. The approaches made thus far by the Council and the Commission have clearly demonstrated their limitations and the EP calls on both to ensure that EU funding allocated to civil society projects is unblocked. It also expects the Commission to ensure that the project in support of the justice system reform guarantees the independence of the judiciary and freedom of action for judges. It expects the Tunisian authorities to provide explanations for the ban imposed on the Congress of the Tunisian Human Rights League, which is considered to be the first Arab and African human rights league and one of the pillars of independent civil society in Tunisia, and reiterates its request to the Council and the Commission to organise a meeting of the Association Council in order to discuss the human rights situation in Tunisia. Full text of the resolution: http://www.europarl.europa.eu/omk/sipade3?PUBREF=-//EP//TEXT+TA+P6-TA-2006-0269+0+DOC+XML+V0//EN&L=EN&LEVEL=0&NAV=S&LSTDOC=Y&LSTDOC=N
* Endorsing the EU Presidency's 19 May 2006 declaration, which calls on the Syrian Government to fully respect freedom of speech and freedom of assembly protected under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which was ratified by Syria in 1969, the European Parliament (EP) adopted a resolution on human rights violations in Syria, on 15 June 2006. It calls for the immediate release of all activists still detained for signing a petition for improved Syrian-Lebanese relations in view of UN Security Council Resolution 1680, for reconsideration of all cases of political prisoners, and for the immediate of all prisoners of conscience. MEPs also call on Syria to ratify the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. They pointed out that respect for human rights constitutes a vital component in any future EU-Syria Association Agreement and calls on Syria to respect its commitments within the framework of the Barcelona Process and along the lines of the European Neighbourhood Policy. The Parliament further calls on the European Commission to assess and report on the human rights situation in Syria and its compliance with the obligations under the Euro-Mediterranean Agreement. Full text of resolution: http://www.europarl.europa.eu/omk/sipade3?L=EN&PUBREF=-//EP//TEXT+TA+20060615+ITEMS+DOC+XML+V0//EN&NAV=S&MODE=XML&LSTDOC=N&LEVEL=1&SAME_LEVEL=1#sdocta16
Press release: http://www.europarl.europa.eu/news/expert/infopress_page/015-8910-166-06-24-902-20060609IPR08847-15-06-2006-2006-false/default_en.htm
* At the 62th Euromed Senior Officials Meeting on 30 May 2006, working methods of the EuroMed Partnership (EMP) were discussed on the basis of Partners proposals with a view to allow the Study Committee to draw up a list of recommendations to be endorsed by Senior Officials and submitted for adoption by the Euromed Foreign Ministers Conference on 27-28 November 2006 in Tampere. It was agreed that H.E. Ambassador Alfred Zarb from Malta, would chair the Study Committee. The proposals mainly concentrated on enhanced co-ownership of the EMP, increased efficiency of work, increased awareness of the EMP amongst public opinion, civil society and media. Other suggestions were put forward concerning the future of FEMIP, the development of Euromed civil protection activities, the intensification if academic exchanges, the establishment of a Euromed enterprises consultation mechanism, and South-south coordination of free trade agreements.
PROGRAMMES & PROJECTS
* € 14 million to support reforms and local governance in Lebanon. The Financing Agreement for the "Support to Reforms and Local Governance" project was signed on 14 June 2006 by the Lebanese Minister of State for Administrative Reform, H.E. Mr. Jean Oghassabian, the Head of the Delegation of the European Commission in Lebanon, H.E. Mr. Patrick Renauld, and the President of the Council for Development and Reconstruction, Mr. El Fadl Chalak in the presence of H.E. Mr. Sami Haddad, Minister of Economy and Trade. Among these €14 million provided by the EU 2005 financing plan, €10 million will be dedicated to support the implementation of reforms (hosted by the Presidency of the Council of Ministers), and €4 million to maintain the support to the local governance programme (hosted by the Office of the Minister of State for Administrative Reform - OMSAR). This agreement, initiated in 2005 by Mme Benita Ferrero-Waldner, European Commissioner for External Relations and the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP), encourages Lebanon to participate in the ENP and supports the Action Plan which has recently been negotiated between the Lebanese government and the EU. More information: http://www.dellbn.cec.eu.int/en/whatsnew/14jun06.htm
* Training Course on the Digital Documentation of the Defence Systems on the Mediterranean Coasts by the use of 3D Laser Scanner, GIS – GPS and Photogrammetry, Cairo, Egypt, 24-30 June 2006. Within the framework of the regional “Euromed Heritage programme” financed by MEDA, the “Defence Systems on the Mediterranean Coasts” (DSMC) project is organizing this training course for graduate and postgraduate researchers in MEDA countries and the EU member states. This second training course which will be held in the premises of the National Center for Documentation of Cultural & Natural Heritage (Cultnat) in Cairo, follows a first training which was held last year at the University of the Aegean in Greece. It will focus on the transfer of new tendencies in digital documentation, in particular the use of 3D Laser Scanner, GIS – GPS and the Photogrammetry. The training illustrates how scientific methods of documentation can be implemented in the specific field of Cultural Heritage, such as the Defence Systems. It is the first global and synthesized attempt of setting a common field of standards and techniques which will be carried out in the partner countries, but which will also be disseminated to other potential user of these new technologies. More information: http://www.medanet.info or contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
* Seminar on "MEDA Programme Implementation", Rabat, Morocco, 12-16 June 2006. This seminar was held in the context of the regional “Training and Consultancy Programme” on Public Administration for the Mediterranean Partners, which is financed by MEDA to provide training to civil servants on European affairs and to create a EuroMed network of training centres in public administration. The 5-day seminar was organised on “EU Programmes” with the aim to give a clear overview of the MEDA Programme, its implementation modalities and final evaluation, including Commission decision process, Programme Management Unit establishment, Project Cycle Management and procurement procedures. For more information: http://www.eipa.nl
* Euromed migration i: thematic session on forecasting economic international migration – Istanbul, Turkey, 9-12 June 2006. This seminar was held in the context of “EuroMed Migration I programme”, a MEDA regional initiative launched in February 2004 as part of the regional cooperation programme in the field of justice, in combating drugs, organised crime and terrorism as well as cooperation in the treatment of issues relating to social integration of migrants, migration and movement of people. The project aims at creating an instrument for observing, analysing and forecasting the migratory movement, their causes and their impact, in Europe and in the Euro-Mediterranean area. The objective of the thematic session concerned was the development of methodologies for constructing and analysing migration-related information that is needed by policy makers in the EuroMed region. For more information: http://www.carim.org
* Training of public administrations: "eu Advanced seminar" on free movement of persons - Paris, France, 29 may-2 June 2006. This seminar was held in the context of the regional Training and Consultancy Programme on Public Administration for the Mediterranean Partners, which is financed by MEDA to provide training to civil servants on European affairs and to create a EuroMed network of training centres in public administration. This 5-day seminar aimed at providing the participants with an expert's working knowledge on EU policies (free movement of persons) that will qualify them to spread relevant information on the matters concerned, as well as to develop a working relation with the EU institutions and EU member States on this issue. For more information: http://www.eipa.nl
* "Adopt a Mediterranean heritage", Rome, Italy, 27 June 2006. The new initiative of the regional MEDA-funded “Euromed Heritage programme”, will be presented to the Italian Ministry of Cultural Heritage, in presence of the Minister of Culture, Mr Francesco Rutelli at the Italian institute for Catalogue and Documentation (ICCD). “Adopt a Mediterranean Heritage” aims at facilitating the contact between endangered Mediterranean heritage and international investors (both public and private) interested in financing restoration, conservation and valorisation activities, in order to support a responsible public / private partnership for cultural heritage with a social development and educational value. The first call for proposals was closed on 11 June 2006. The Villa Antoniadis in Alexandria (Egypt), the Sinagogue Le Hevra Kedosa of Izmir (Turkey), and the fortress Borj El Mers of Meknès (Morocco) are among the heritage proposed. The valorisation of sites such as the archaeological park in Petra (Jordan), the archaeological site of Qasr Ibrim in Assuan (Egypt) or the Roman-Byzantine Al-Burj's Castle in Abu-Toq (Palestine) is also foreseen. The programme further includes “moveable” heritage (sculptures, paintings, fine arts, manuscripts) such as the library and archives of the Istanbul Muftiate. More information: http://www.euromedheritage.net
* Jazz at the Chellah, Rabat, Morocco, 16-20 June 2006. The Oudayas Jazz Festival is back with its 11th edition, and will be held for the second time at the historical Chellah site in Rabat from 16 to 20 June 2006. Organised jointly by the European Commission Delegation in Morocco and the embassies and cultural institutes of Member States, together with the Moroccan Ministry of Culture and the Wilaya of Rabat Salé, this festival concretely illustrates the cultural side of the Euro-Mediterranean partnership. The event aims to be a space mixing European jazz and Moroccan music and this year's celebration puts the focus on women. The programme offers a fusion of styles between “malhoun” and saxophone, swing and percussions, interpreted by artists of both sides of the Mediterranean. Like the previous editions, this year the benefits of the festival will support charity work. More information the EC Delegation site: http://www.delmar.ec.europa.eu/fr/quoi_de_neuf/20060601m.htm (French or Arabic).
* The Euro-Arab Cinema Caravan in Europe. The Caravan is one of the promotion projects of the regional MEDA-funded “Euromed Audiovisual II Programme” to enhance the Euro-Mediterranean audiovisual cooperation. From March to May 2006 the Caravan has been travelling from Cairo to Beirut through Alexandria and Amman. For this first event, the Caravan reached an audience of more than 18 000 spectators along its 145 screenings showing a rich mixture of European and Arab productions (or co productions) which are all high quality and mostly awarded movies around the theme “cultural exchange”. The Caravan of the Euro-Arab Cinema is currently in Europe. After Rotterdam (30 May – 4 June), Amsterdam (9-11 June), Den Haag (15-18 June) and Utrecht (23-25 June), it will move to Paris and Marseilles in July 2006. For the programme refer to: http://www.cinemacaravan.com.
* Euromed Audiovisual II – First Calls for Application for Euro-mediterranean films Promotion, Distribution and exhibition, Cannes, France, may 2006. For the first time ten projects from the regional MEDA-financed Euromed Audiovisual II programme were present at the Cannes Film Festival in May 2006 to provide information on their activities to all European and Mediterranean professionals. On this occasion the Med-Screen and Euromed Cinemas programmes were also presented. Med-Screen focuses on the promotion of the Arab cinema in all the countries of the partnership. This will be done through the organisation of Arab film weeks, as well as through providing support to the rights' holders of films on the market and additional promotional means for DVD publishers. The project will also ensure the production and distribution of "the making of" as well as the creation of a web-site devoted to these films. For further information, visit http://www.med-screen.com. The Euromed Cinemas project aims to encourage the release of films in an innovative way by supporting their distribution and exhibition. This support targets films from the Mediterranean region for exhibition in European countries but also for European films to ensure their presence in the Mediterranean countries. For further information, visit http://www.ccm.ma. The MEDA Film Development Programme for training and the development of audio-visual projects also announced very positive results after its first session which took place in Marrakesh from the 19th to 26th April welcoming 10 project producers from Algeria, Israel, Lebanon, the Palestinian Authority, Tunisia and Turkey. For further information, visit http://www.mfd.ma. For additional information on the activities of the regional programme: http://www.euromedaudiovisuel.net
* TV5 MONDE - "Special Kiosk on the Press in the Maghreb", Sunday 25 June at 5.00 p.m. broadcasted in France, Belgium and Switzerland. In the framework of the regional MEDA Information and Communication Programme, the European Commission is financing around twenty hours of television programmes devoted to relations between the EU and Maghreb, produced by the television channel TV5 Monde. This programme, presented by Paul Germain, will be filmed in Brussels in the garden of the Europe House, next to the European Parliament. It will assemble journalists from Algeria, Tunisia and Morocco, as well as two journalists working in Europe with knowledge of the Maghreb press and the programmes of the European Union in this area. On the occasion of this special Kiosk edition, guests will discuss the reasons why Algerians, Moroccans and Tunisians buy newspapers, the role of the French press in Maghreb, freedom of press and the role of the EU in encouraging freedom of expression in the Mediterranean region. Two television reports will round off these discussions. The first one will open the floor to journalists from different media in Morocco. The second one will focus on the training of journalist project, which is also financed by the MEDA Information and Communication Programme and aims to create a journalists network in the Mediterranean Basin, as well as to raise awareness of EU activities in the region by strengthening the ability of journalists to present information relating to the Euro-Mediterranean partnership to their public. Information on Kiosk: http://www.tv5.org/TV5Site/kiosque/index.php and on the “Europe for Mediterranean Journalists” project: http://www.ejc.nl/eu4med/index.html#brochures
Brussels,06 27 2006