|Euro-Med members gather for two-day meeting in Lisbon|
|Members of the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership gathered in Lisbon Monday for a two-day ministerial meeting on the implementation of a five-year work program developed at the Barcelona summit in 2005.|
The Euro-Mediterranean Partnership, established in 1995 by what is known as the Barcelona Process, comprises the 25 EU member states and 10 Southern and Eastern Mediterranean nations, including Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Egypt, Israel, the Palestinian Authority, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria and Turkey.
Pursuant with the guidelines of the Barcelona Process, members of the partnership have worked toward broad economic and security cooperation for 12 years. At the Barcelona summit in 2005, the group developed a five-year work program designed to develop commercial, environmental, and socio-cultural ties and a Code of Conduct addressing terrorism in the Mediterranean.
The November 2007 summit in Lisbon is a biannual conference to gauge progress in the implementation of the objectives of 2005 summit.
Benita Ferrero-Waldner, commissioner for external relations and the European Neighborhood Policy, summarized the partnership's goals and the Lisbon summit's agenda. " The Five-Year Action Plan agreed at the Barcelona summit draws the operational map for our common endeavors. After 12 years of progressive co-operation, we need to mobilize political will, courage and determination, to make a reality of the goals we set ourselves in 2005 and to achieve our joint objectives of peace, prosperity and security for the region," she said.
Along with assessing the implementation of the 2005 objectives, the foreign delegations will discuss specific operational goals for 2008.
According to a press release from Europa, the EU's portal Web site, activities in 2008 would include increased vigilance against regional terrorism, particularly in the field of Internet technology.
The partnership will also work toward the "liberalization of trade," "economic integration," and the establishment of a "dispute settlement mechanism." Upon its creation, the Euro-Mediterranean Free Trade area will establish one of the world's largest free-trade zones.
The conference will also address concerns over global warming, Mediterranean pollution, tourism, and employment standards, along with launching the first Euro-Mediterranean Inter-Cultural Dialogue.
In a statement issued on October 17, the European Commission emphasized its commitment to facilitating an open dialogue between the partnership's member states, saying, "the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership is the only forum within which all Mediterranean partners exchange views and engage in a constructive dialogue in spite of the persisting conflict in the Middle East and in other parts of the region."
In accordance with the Euro-Med Partnership's commitment to cooperation, Ferrero-Waldner will hold meetings with the Israeli and Arab delegations. The Lisbon summit ends on Tuesday.
Marseille,11 08 2007
The Daily Star