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French Version

European Parliament slams Mediterranean pact

Assembly president says agreement has done little to end regional conflicts or close economic gap

The president of the European Parliament, Josep Borrell, said Sunday an agreement between the European Union and Mediterranean nations had done little in 10 years to end conflicts or close the economic gap.

Slamming the EU's Mediterranean partnership in a statement, Borrell said the three billion euros ($3.5 billion) that the EU pumps into the region in grants and loans each year was not fully effective because it was not followed by private investment. But he said people did not want to invest, because of poor governance, a lack of human rights and continuing conflicts in the region. Democracy and a respect for human rights were necessary in order to create "a Mediterranean that is economically and politically prosperous." he said.

Borrell was attending a meeting of the Euro-Mediterranean Parliamentary Assembly.

About 200 Moroccans demonstrated outside the Moroccan Parliament where the two-day meeting was taking place to protest the participation of delegates from Israel.

The demonstration took place following a call from the opposition Islamic Justice and Development Party (PJD) and two other groups, including the Moroccan Association for Human Rights. The demonstrators protested Israel's "Zionist" policy against the Palestinians, rejected any kind of normalization with Israel and urged the government to ban Israeli deputies.

A Moroccan official source said that invitations to the meeting were issued by the parliamentary assembly and not by the Moroccan government or Parliament. The European Union began the so-called Barcelona process with 11 Mideastern or North African countries plus the Palestinian entity in 1995. Two of those countries, Cyprus and Malta, have since become EU members.

Leaders of the signatory countries were scheduled to meet in Barcelona on November 27 and 28.

Borrell said it was "vital to remodel the Euro-Mediterranean partnership, and I hope that this session (of the parliamentary assembly) sends a message loud and clear to the heads of state and government meeting in Barcelona." The assembly includes 75 deputies from the parliaments of countries belonging to the Mediterranean partnership, and 45 members of the European Parliament.

Beirut,11 21 2005
The Daily Star
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