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Euromed News

MEETINGS

* European Commissioner for External Relations Chris Patten is visiting Iran, Turkey, and Lebanon successively from 2 to 7 February to discuss international and regional developments, notably Iraq, as well as the EU's bilateral relationship with each of the countries concerned. In Iran the Commissioner met President Mohammad Khatami, and Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi. In Turkey Mr Patten met Prime Minister Abdullah Gül and Foreign Minister Yasar Yakis. Discussion topics included Turkey's application for membership of the EU. The Lebanese leg of the trip takes place on 6 and 7 February. There the Commissioner meets President Emile Lahoud, Prime Minister Rafic Hariri, and Foreign Minister Mahmoud Hammoud. High on the agenda is the implementation of the EU-Lebanon Association Agreement, which has recently been ratified by the Lebanese authorities. The situation of Palestinian refugees in the country is another subject for discussion. On the eve of his visit Mr Patten said: "It is very important that at this testing moment for the international community, we do not allow a 'clash of civilisations' to develop….Commitment to peace, the fight against terrorism and the quest for stability should be values shared between the great cultures of Europe and the Middle East."
http://europa.eu.int

* European Commission Vice-President in charge of Transport and Energy Loyola De Palacio is visiting Algeria from 6 to 10 February to deepen bilateral relations in those two sectors, and to try to identify co-operation activities. Mrs De Palacio is scheduled to meet Minister of Energy and Mining Dr Chekib Khalil, and Transport Minister Abdelmalek Sellal. Meetings with Algerian personalities at the highest levels of government could also take place. Supply of gas to the EU should be discussed. The Vice-President will also hold a meeting with the Ambassadors of EU Member States.

* Senior Officials of the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership responsible for Political and Security Issues met on 3 February in Brussels. EU High Representative Javier Solana, who participated for the first time in such a meeting, had an interesting exchange of views with Senior Officials on the European Security and Defence Policy (ESDP), the Middle East, and Iraq, as well as on the Barcelona Process itself, which he stressed should become more 'results-oriented'; he also emphasised that EU enlargement will be positive for the Process. The Greek Presidency of the EU presented its priorities for the first half of 2003. Participants discussed Partnership Building Measures and in particular the future of the Disaster Prevention Pilot Project, and the EuroMeSCo network of foreign policy institutes.

* The Euro-Mediterranean Committee of the Barcelona Process met on 4 February in Brussels. The Greek Presidency presented its priorities. An exchange of views took place on the Committee's own working methods on the basis of a document put forward by Morocco. There was general agreement on certain practical changes to improve the efficiency of the Committee, including the introduction of occasional thematic meetings. There was a general exchange of views on the future Euro-Mediterranean Foundation, following which a consensus emerged that there had to be a special meeting for setting up the Foundation. It was confirmed that a meeting of the Civil Forum would be held in April in Chania, Greece. The Committee took note of work going on on restructuring and improving the continuity of the Civil Forum. On the Agadir Process the four participants (Egypt, Jordan, Morocco, and Tunisia) confirmed that an agreement had been initialled, and was expected to be signed shortly.

* The European Parliament Delegations for Relations with Israel and the Palestinian Legislative Council will hold separate meetings on 12 February in Strasbourg, France. The former will discuss the results of the recent general elections in Israel in the presence of Israeli Ambassador to the EU Oded Eran. A visit to Israel by the Delegation later this year is also on the agenda. The latter will also have an exchange of views on last month's elections in Israel. Both Delegations will plan their activities for 2003.

* The European Parliament Delegation for Relations with Mashrak countries and Gulf States will meet on 13 February in Strasbourg. There will be an exchange of views on a planned visit by a Syrian Parliamentary Delegation in November. The Delegation President will brief the meeting on a visit to Gulf countries late last year. The Delegation's activities this year will also be discussed.

* A Round Table on Islamophobia is taking place on 6 February in Brussels on the initiative of European Commissioner for Employment and Social Affairs Anna Diamantopoulou. The meeting brings together experts of Islam, sociologists, and commentators to look at the phenomenon of Islamophobia in EU Member States, the impact of 11 September 2001, and the rising tensions in the Middle East. The meeting will also examine recommendations for responses to the problem. A Round Table on manifestations of anti-semitism in the EU was held last December. A concluding session in March will focus on intercultural dialogue. Both Round Tables are organised with the support of the European Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia, which has published a report on Islamophobia in the EU following September 11. The report is available on the Centre's website http://www.eumc.eu.int/ .
Ø A Conference on the euro and the Mediterranean Region took place on 3 and 4 February in Athens, Greece. The first session on 'The Euro, the Mediterranean, and the Gulf' was chaired by European Commissioner for Economic and Monetary Affairs Pedro Solbes. The speech he delivered at the Conference is on the web at
http://europa.eu.int


PROGRAMMES & PROJECTS.

* THE EUROPEAN COMMISSION'S ANTI-FRAUD OFFICE (OLAF) ON 5 FEBRUARY ANNOUNCED IT HAD OPENED AN INVESTIGATION CONCERNING ALLEGATIONS OF MISUSE OF EU BUDGETARY SUPPORT TO THE PALESTINIAN AUTHORITY. No further comment will be made on this investigation until it has been completed. http://europa.eu.int/olaf . European Commissioner for External Relations Chris Patten on 6 February welcomed the investigation and stated: "The Commission has fully investigated repeated allegations that some of these budgetary payments may have been misused. No evidence to that effect has yet come to light. … It is natural that the independent anti-fraud office of the Commission (OLAF) should itself choose to investigate these allegations, in line with its policy of zero-tolerance -and we welcome that decision". More on
http://europa.eu.int

* INDUSTRIAL MODERNISATION PROGRAMME IN TUNISIA
The Financing Convention for Tunisia's Industrial Modernisation Programme (IMP) was signed on 31 January in Tunis by the Tunisian Minister of Development and International Co-operation Mohamed Nouri Jouini, his colleague in charge of Industry and Energy Moncef Ben Abdallah, and the Head of the European Commission Delegation Marc Pierini. Tunisia's IMP receives a € 50 million grant under MEDA, within the National Indicative Programme 2002-2004. The Programme aims at upgrading small and medium-sized enterprises competitiveness, improving the business environment, approximation of the industrial legislative framework to the one in the EU, and easing financing conditions for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). It is made up of four components (Development through Innovation in favour of SMEs; Quality/Metrology/Standardisation; Industrial Property; and Financing).


PUBLICATIONS

* ECONOMIC REVIEW OF EU MEDITERRANEAN PARTNERS
The first issue of the 'Economic Review of EU Mediterranean Partners' was published by the European Commission on 3 February at the Conference on 'Europe, the Mediterranean, and the Euro' (see above). The publication gives an overview of recent macro-economic and structural developments in Mediterranean countries. It is available on the web at
http://europa.eu.int

* REMINDER - THE MEDA WEB SITE IS ON LINE
A MEDA web site was launched recently by the European Commission's EuropeAid Cooperation Office. It presents co-operation between the European Union and the Southern Mediterranean, Near and Middle East region, and includes information on MEDA funded bilateral and regional activities, as well as other important items such as financial statistics, sectors of co-operation, reports, and publications. Visit it and send us your feedback!
http://europa.eu.int


MISCELLANEOUS

* REMINDER - EUROMED PUBLICATIONS SURVEY
You can help us improve this and other Euromed Publications. You only have to fill in the survey form you have received recently, and send it back to us by e-mail or fax. The survey form is also on the web at
http://europa.eu.int

Brussels,02 13 2003
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