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Euromed News : News on the EU and its neighbours

Political News

European Year of Intercultural Dialogue – projects with Mediterranean Partner Countries
The need for an in-depth discussion on the importance of culture within Europe and with actors outside Europe was underlined by Slovenian Prime Minister, Janez Janša, at the opening ceremony of the European Year of Intercultural Dialogue, in Ljubljana. “The EU is united not only through its common economy and policy but also by the values of shared memory, culture and creativity,” he said, adding that the path of intercultural dialogue is the path of strengthening the most solid foundation for peace and prosperity on our planet. 2008 has also been named by the EuroMed Ministers of Foreign Affairs the “Euro-Mediterranean Year for Intercultural Dialogue”. A number of projects and activities with Mediterranean Partner Countries will be held. In that sense, the Anna Lindh Foundation has drawn an ambitious programme for the celebration of 2008: “1001 actions for Dialogue”.

From Afghanistan to Uganda: Commission earmarks nearly €370 million humanitarian aid
The European Commission has earmarked €369.6 million in humanitarian aid to meet the basic needs of the most vulnerable victims of humanitarian crises around the globe. A series of humanitarian aid decisions has been launched to provide food assistance and humanitarian aid to people in need. EU Member States have already approved the Commission proposals for these aid plans and they are now being submitted to the European Parliament for scrutiny.

EU’s commitment to speeding up the Middle East peace process
The Middle East peace process will continue to be one of the EU’s central concerns during the Slovenian Presidency, underlined the current Chairman of the General Affairs and Foreign Relations Council, Slovenian Minister Dr Dimitrij Rupel after meeting the Palestinian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr Riad Malki, on a visit to Ljubljana. He said that the Annapolis Conference and the International Donors' Conference for the Palestinian State in Paris, had initiated a new era of talks to be conducted by the Israeli and Palestinian Governments. Dr Rupel assured the Palestinian Minister of the Slovenian EU Presidency’s absolute commitment to speeding up the Middle East peace process.

EU Presidency welcomes Arab League plan for Lebanon
The EU Presidency welcomed the unanimous conclusions of the extraordinary session of the Arab League Foreign Ministers. In its written statement, the Presidency expressed its support to the plan for Lebanon calling for the election of the president, the formation of a national unity government and the adoption of a new electoral law. “The EU Presidency reaffirms its strong support for the sovereignty, territorial integrity, unity, and political independence of Lebanon and urges all Lebanese parties to accept the proposals put forward by the Arab League in order to end the political crisis in the country,” it said.

Human Rights Defenders in Syria should be able to operate free of harassment
In a declaration, the EU Presidency declared: "The EU is deeply concerned about the recent detention of members of a pro-democracy grouping in support of the “Declaration of Damascus”, in Syria". The EU recalled Syria’s international commitments, namely the Universal Declaration on Human Rights and more specifically the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which Syria has signed and ratified and that clearly states the right to freedom of expression (article 19) and the right to freedom of assembly (article 21). The EU urged the Syrian authorities to immediately release all of those detained while freely and peacefully expressing their opinions.

Peaceful conduct of the Presidential elections in Georgia
"The peaceful and orderly participation of Georgian voters in the elections confirms the desire of Georgian people to develop a society based on democratic principles, the rule of law and the respect of basic freedoms" said Commissioner Ferrero-Waldner on the recent Presidential elections in Georgia. The preliminary findings of the International Elections Observation Mission confirmed that the electoral process was overall in line with OSCE and Council of Europe standards. However, this report identified several important shortcomings. A strong and sustained commitment of the Georgian authorities to foster a more pluralistic and participative society, is essential. The Commission stands ready to continue providing technical assistance and expertise in the framework of the EU-Georgia ENP Action Plan.

Release of 119 prisoners in Azerbaijan
In a Declaration on behalf of the European Union, the Slovenian Presidency welcomed the long-awaited release of five journalists on the occasion of Solidarity Day of World Azerbaijanis. "It is a positive step towards Azerbaijan's fulfilment of international and European obligations with regard to freedom of the press", it said. The European Union would like to see the three journalists still imprisoned released or pardoned at the earliest opportunity and would like a moratorium to be declared on proceedings for defamation. The European Union is convinced that such political gestures could contribute to strengthening the partnership between Azerbaijan and the European Union and would be conducive to a more favourable political atmosphere in the run-up to the electoral campaign.

Programmes and Projects

Journalist training in the Meda region
Around 150 journalists and editors in the Mediterranean region participated in the project "Europe for Mediterranean journalists" which has just finished. The project's objectives were to improve quality of coverage of the Euro-Mediterranean partnership and to create a sustainable network of journalists.
16 training sessions have been organised in 10 countries. More than 100 articles and 100 audiovisual products have been produced. From 2008 onwards, a new project starts involving journalists from the whole ENPI region. It consists of 3 pillars: training, networking and education.

Drought Guidelines for Mediterranean countries
In the framework of the MEDA water programme, a workshop entitled "Drought Guidelines for Mediterranean countries: a methodology to develop risk management and a proactive approach in drought preparedness" will be organised in Syria on 15-16 January. It will discuss cases which could be useful for other countries such as Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Palestine and Turkey.
The Programme's goal is to improve local water management conditions through co-operation of non-profit organisations from EU countries and non-profit organisations in the beneficiary countries.

Dutch lessons in flexibility
"Flexibility is the secret of the Dutch apprenticeship model,” says ETF (European Training Foundation) expert Helmut Zelloth who has just toured a group of representatives from the Mediterranean region through the industrious lowlands. “To experience this flexibility at first hand was a great learning opportunity for our colleagues who need to change the mindsets at home from bulk solutions to tailored training.” The study visit organised under the MEDA-ETE project gathered representatives from the ministries responsible for work-based learning and employers’ organisations.
The objective of the MEDA-ETE project is to support MEDA partners in the design and implementation of relevant technical and vocational education and training (TVET) policies that can contribute to promoting employment through a regional approach.

28 MEDA professionals selected for the 6th Berlinale Talent Campus
A total of 28 up-and-coming talents representing eight Mediterranean partner countries have been invited to take part in the Berlinale Talent Campus 2008, which received applications from 120 countries all over the world, including 149 from MEDA countries. Together with 360 industry talents they will participate in the Campus on "Screening Emotions – Cinema’s Finest Asset", in February, which is shaping up to be an intensive six-day programme packed with events.
The EU-financed Euromed Audiovisual II aims at stimulating dialogue and exchange between peoples from both shores of the Mediterranean through cinema.

Training opportunity for film and TV professionals from the Mediterranean Partner Countries
Film and broadcasting professionals from Algeria, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, the Palestinian Authority, Syria and Tunisia can apply for the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) Scholarships for the Southern Mediterranean for INSIGHT OUT 2008 (Digital Production). The EBU will sponsor 10 scholarships for the year 2008. This is an initiative of the Euromed Audiovisual II programme.

Ukraine: Environmental Collaboration for the Black Sea Project
On 19 December 2007, the Conference of the Environmental Collaboration for the Black Sea Project funded by the European Union took place in Kyiv. The Project focuses on regional co-operation and the improvement of the Convention on the Protection of the Black Sea Against Pollution (the Bucharest Convention). The goal of the event was to inform the various stakeholders about the commencement of the Project and the activities to be implemented in Ukraine.

EU Project Fights against Money Laundering in Ukraine
On 13-14 December 2007, an EU project against money laundering and terrorism financing in Ukraine (MOLI-UA-2) held an expert meeting focused on the legal basis for combating illegal financial activities. MOLI-UA-2 aims to facilitate prevention of and fight against money laundering and terrorism financing in Ukraine, based on European standards and best practices, to improve skills of specialists in the relevant bodies in Ukraine, and to develop the organizational and technical infrastructure of this system. The project is supported by the European Union and the Council of Europe. It will last 36 months (until April 2009) with the budget of €5.3 million.

Publication and Events

2008 Samir Kassir Award for Freedom of the Press” announced
The third "Samir Kassir Award for Freedom of the Press", awarded by the EC Delegation to Lebanon in association with the Samir Kassir Foundation, has been launched. One journalist and one researcher will be awarded with €15.000. The theme must be related to the rule of law - good governance, struggle against corruption, freedom of expression, human rights etc.
Candidates have until 30 March 2008 to apply, while the award ceremony will be held on the 2 June 2008 in Beirut.

Freedom of association in the Euro-Med region
The Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Network has published a new report on freedom of association in the Euro-Mediterranean region covering the ten South Mediterranean countries and Europe. This study presents a comprehensive review of the legislation and practices pertaining to freedom of association in the Euro-Mediterranean region. It is part of a project financed by the EU.

Conclusions of the EuroMeSCo Research Workshops in Arabic
EuroMeSCo has announced the publication of the first series of Research Workshops conclusions in Arabic: the conclusions of the Lisbon Research Workshop entitled "Dealing with Security in the Euro-Mediterranean Area after Barcelona 10", the conclusions of the Torino Research Workshop entitled "Emerging Actors and Changing Societies in the Southern Mediterranean Area", and the conclusions of the Cambridge Research Workshop entitled "Democracy and Migration in the Euro-Mediterranean Area".

Marseille,01 21 2008
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