The long expected summit, founding the Union for the Mediterranean, initiated by the French, has ended. The new initiative unites 4 different geopolitical regions: the EU, the Balkans, the Middle East and North Africa (1). On July 13, 2008, 43 European, Middle East and North African leaders in Paris unanimously accepted the final declaration that constitutes the Union for the Mediterranean with the goal of supporting the cooperation and relations in this region. At the beginning of the summit, which was preceded by bilateral negotiations of French president Sarkozy with the problematic countries of the North Africa and Middle East, France, as one of the co-presidents of the newly created union, declared that “the Mediterranean region will decide whether there will be conflict between the north and the south, whether terrorism and fundamentalism succeed and mark the rest of the world with violence and intolerance.”
That is the reason why he urged the Mediterranean countries to a peaceful coexistence – similar to what the European Union acceded at its creation. In its final 10 pages declaration, the participants of the summit committed themselves to “building peace, democracy, prosperity and social and cultural understanding” (2), in cooperation of all countries on common pilot projects:
– cleansing of the Mediterranean Sea by 2020;
– development of transport and telecommunications infrastructure in the region;
– building of a protection net for the civil population with the goal of creating a civil society in the Med region;
– support of the use of solar energy in the southern countries;
– creation of Mediterranean university with the seat in one of the Slovenian cities;
– development of a program for the support for small and medium enterprises.
On the next day, July 14, France boasted with its military arsenal on Champs Elysees on the occasion of the celebration of state holiday of the French Republic in Paris. According to the Secretary-General of the United Nations Ban Ki-Moon, the French initiative will greatly contribute to the peacemaking in the world.
European Communities and Global policy towards Mediterranean
The 6 founding members of European Communities (EC) have secured bilateral agreements of cooperation with the Mediterranean countries since 1951, albeit without a unified EC policy applied to the region. In the sense of the Treaty of Rome that in 1957 served as foundation for the establishment of the European Economic Community (EEC) and European Atomic Energy Community (EURATOM), EC considered the Mediterranean to be the external border of the European space, but also a birthplace of instability and terrorism, providing Europe with ships full of illegal immigrants.
After laying down firm foundations of the functioning of EC that by 1970 finished building customs union, the first long-term legal framework of cooperation called “Global policy towards Mediterranean” was created, between the EC on one side and the countries of the North Africa and the Middle East on the other side (3). Global policy that covered the period from 1972 till 1991 was built on the association treaties and cooperation agreements – EC had these treaties with 11 countries of the Mediterranean region, also known as Med (4).
European Union and the Barcelona process
In November 1995, Conference on Euro-Mediterranean cooperation of Ministers of Foreign Affairs was organized as an initiative of the European Council in Barcelona, which prepared the ground for the Euro-Mediterranean partnership (also Euro-Med), also known as the Barcelona process. The EU-15 agreed on the wording of the text of the Barcelona declaration with 12 countries of Med, including the Palestinian Autonomy. The declaration became the basis for a completely new regional cooperation North-South with the goal of bringing peace, stability and socio-economic growth to the region.
The Barcelona declaration also defines specific goals and areas of regional cooperation that are in the centre of the interest of the countries participating in the Barcelona process:
– Sustaining political and security dialogue with the goal of creating a common area of peace and stability based on the principles of respect of human rights and democracy;
– Development of economic and financial cooperation with progressive building of free trade area by 2010 with the goal of creating an area of prosperity and stimulating economic transformation in partner countries for the benefit of all participating states;
– Strengthening of cooperation in the cultural and social areas with the goal of supporting mutual understanding between nations and cultures of both shores of the Mediterranean Sea.
The fourth chapter, on which the participating parties of the project agreed on a meeting at 10th anniversary of Euro-Mediterranean cooperation, is the area of the cooperation in the field of migration since 2005.
Ministers of Foreign Affairs of Euro-Med countries meet regularly (5), in order to monitor the fulfillment of the Barcelona declaration and to decide on future direction of the Barcelona process. In the last years, the ministerial meetings have become more intensive and they cover important political aspects that are in the center of the attention of the participating countries. In 2008, 11 meetings of Ministers of Euro-Med cooperation are scheduled, covering the fields of culture, information society, water and road communication, industry, trade, economic and financial affairs, as well as foreign policy. In the framework of Euro-Med agenda, there are more than 50 high level meetings with the goal of harmonizing and synchronizing the policies and regulatory frameworks that are the pillars of the regional cooperation with the final goal to bring them closer to the standards and practices of the European Union.
Cooperation in the framework of the Barcelona process
The Euro-Med cooperation is two-leveled. It is implemented both on bilateral level, i.e. in the form of cooperation of the EU with individual partner countries, and on regional level, i.e. in the form of the cooperation of the EU with the entire Mediterranean region. The bilateral cooperation with individual partner countries is based on the association treaties signed by the Union. Although the treaties differ from each other, they contain common values respected and kept by the European Union, i.e. political dialogue, respect of human rights and democracy, respect of the rules of economic competition, providing state support and the regulation of monopoly, cooperation in the economic, social and culture fields, and also in the field of migration.
The regional cooperation with all the partner countries in the region completes the differentiated bilateral cooperation and it includes solving of political, economic and cultural problems common for all the Mediterranean countries: industry, energy, environment, and agriculture. The relations of the EU with the countries of the Mediterranean go beyond the classical borders of the cooperation within the Euro-Med. It involves all the countries that since 2004 cooperate with the Union in the framework of its Common neighborhood policy, based on which an Action plan is created for each individual country according to its need and absorbing capacity. The Action plans enable the countries to have a larger and easier access to the markets of the Union, enhanced help, and also deeper integration into the EU programs. Neither the Barcelona process nor European neighborhood policy anticipated membership in the Brussels structures in the long run, but this possibility is not explicitly excluded.
The EU created a financial instrument called MEDA I for the period of 1995 – 1999 with the total amount of 3.435 billion EUR and MEDA II for the period 2000 – 2006 with the total amount of 5.35 billion EUR to finance the Barcelona process. In the present, the Euro-Med cooperation is financed by the European Neighborhood and Partnership Instrument (ENPI) that replaced MEDA II and TACIS in 2007 and will support the reform activities of Euro-Mediterranean cooperation and the southern dimension of European Neighborhood policy until 2013 with a total amount of approximately 12 billion EUR.
Progress obtained in the implementation of Barcelona process
The EU Commissioner for external relations and European Neighborhood policy Benita Ferrero-Waldner stressed the significance of the cooperation on a top summit of high representatives of Euro-Mediterranean cooperation in the following points (6):
– Euro-Med countries are getting close to creating a free trade area of Euro-Med that is by 2010 supposed to be the largest in the world with more than 740 billion customers;
– Euro-Med countries agreed on an Euro-Med code of conduct in the fight against terrorism;
– Euro-Med countries actively work in the fields of education, building security area and strengthening the role of women in society;
– In 2004, Euro-Med countries established Euro-Med parliamentary assembly;
– In 2004, Ministers of Industry adopted Charter for small and medium enterprises;
– Euro-Med countries succeeded in the integration of Maghreb electro energetic market, establishment of natural gas market Mashreq and a fruitful energy cooperation between Israel and Palestinian Autonomy;
– Euro-Med countries achieved success in long-term implementation of the Euro-Med Inheritance and Euro-Med Youth programs, in creation of networks of institutes of economic research (FEMISE) and political sciences (EUROMESCO), as well as in establishment of agencies for the support of investments (ANIMA), or agencies for transport, energy, environment and water sector management (EWIS).
– Euro-Med countries also created Civic Forum and Platform for the support of civil society that assists in organizing activities of civil society in the region.
Euro-Med countries also established Anna Lindh Foundation for the support of the cultural dialogue. The foundation associates around 1500 organizations for the support of civil society of all the partner countries of Barcelona process.
The Barcelona Process: Union for the Mediterranean
In May 2008, the European Commission (EC) accepted a series of suggestions in order to improve the relations of the European Union with the partner countries of Euro-Med in the framework of the Barcelona process: Union for Mediterranean with the perspective of creating the Secretariat and Permanent Committee of Euro-Med representatives. The European Council conclusions from June 2008 point at very high strategic importance that the Mediterranean area represents for the EU and to which the Union pays very little attention. Only 10 percent of all the foreign direct investments (FDI) go to the Med countries (7) and the share of the total foreign turnover of the Union with the countries of the North Africa and the Middle East is only 5 percent (8).
President Sarkozy, in whose center of geopolitical interest lies the Mediterranean area, declared in the end of June 2008 in front of Israeli members of parliament that Europe must return to the center of the solution of the Middle East conflict (9). His idea consisted in creating Mediterranean Union with the coastal countries of the EU and Med countries. The close economic cooperation between these countries should serve as a catalyst for a faster solution of the Middle East conflict. That is why he called the Sunday conference in the Grand Palais in Champs Elysees (10) in Paris with the both state and non-state participants, who should actively help appease the tension in the crisis region behind Mediterranean, taking part (11).
It was the inability of the Barcelona process to solve a regional crisis in 13 years, even with the financial help of Brussels institutions that induced the need to create a firm institutional framework for peacemaking in the Middle East. One of the reasons for disappointment of the failed Barcelona process was the fact that the expectations were too high, since in the time of its launch in November 1995, the Madrid conference in 1991 and Oslo treaties from 1993 seemed to be the pillars that the EU could rely on for the crisis situation solution. However, the murder of the Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin by a Jew fanatic a few days after the Conference about Euro-Mediterranean cooperation constituted the breaking point, followed by a period of escalated Arab-Israeli tensions and violence, reflected in the growth of militant Islamic movements and terrorist attack on „American Twins” on September 11, 2001. Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan contributed even more to the tensions between the West and the Arab world.
Failure, or very slow progress in achieving of the economic goal of Euro-Med to create a free trade area between the EU and the Mediterranean countries, can be attributed to still lasting war between Algeria and Morocco about Western Sahara, which has become a main obstacle for the creation of single market with the countries of the North Africa. Until now, the only solution and the compensation for “lost profit” seems to be the Agadir Agreement from 2004 that sets the creation of a free trade area between Jordan, Tunisia, Morocco and Egypt as a goal.
French concessions: for what price?
According to French president’s proposal, the Paris summit is the culmination of the reform process of the Euro-Mediterranean cooperation, so called Barcelona process, which should supplement and extend the existing bilateral relations between the EU and the partner countries of the Barcelona process. Sarkozy’s plan to transform the unstable Mediterranean region to a region of peace, stability, and prosperity after to the example of the countries on the European continent, is one of the pillars of the French presidency, which since July 1st shapes the general direction of the European Union for six months.
The Union for the Mediterranean should be financed from the remaining funds of the ENPI financial instrument, originally intended for financing the Barcelona process, and from the contributions of both the member states of the EU and the newly created Union for the Mediterranean. However, in the final declaration there is not any reference to the individual contributions of the participating countries. The commercial sector and loans from regional and international banks and institutions will supplement the remaining capital. Lucrative project will also be executed with the investments from the countries united in the Council for the Cooperation in the Persian Gulf.
France had to make concessions to its European partners and give up its original vision to create Mediterranean union with the participation of 5 south European maritime member states of the EU. Germany, as a largest contributor to the common budget of the Union, opposed the French proposal, because it does not want to finance any project that draws funds without its direct participation in it (12). Berlin, which together with Paris was the engine of the European integration, did not approve of the original French project (13), because of fear of hidden return of Frenche hegemonism and the proposal was, supposedly, not in line with the European policy of multilateralism of the 21st century (14). Sarkozy’s original plans included the establishment of Mediterranean Investment Bank, but France had to give up this proposal under the pressure of other leaders (15). According the final version of the initiative, the union should be made of 44 members – the entire EU with Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Monaco, Montenegro, as well as 12 countries of the North Africa and the Middle East.
The countries of central and eastern Europe that acceded to the Treaty of EU in 2004 feel that the Union puts too much emphasis on the countries of the North Africa and the Middle East (in the period 2000 – 2006 5.3 billion EUR as opposed to 3.1 billion EUR for the countries of eastern dimension of the neighborhood policy of the EU, while in the current period 2007 – 2013 the ratio of the funds is 9 billion to 6 billion EUR). According to these countries, the EU funds should focus on the Black Sea Union (16) created by Ukraine, Russia, and Turkey (17), whose creation was suggested by the Party of European Socialists (PES), or on the common Swedish-Polish proposal that is limited to 6 countries (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine) that in the long-term aspire for the potential membership in the EU structures (19). However, the Union by its approach to the Mediterranean shows that its interest lies not only in the eastern dimension of its neighborhood policy, but also the southern dimension.
The original French proposal also included a system of regular meetings of the participating countries of the Mediterranean Union similar to the European Council, but the final shape presumes summits of the EU and Med countries every 2 years (19). Besides that, the Ministers of Foreign Affairs should meet annually in order to discuss the urgent questions that the countries of the Union for the Mediterranean face (20).
The potential and the obstacles of the Union for the Mediterranean
Unlike the modest results achieved within the Euro-Mediterranean cooperation in the course of 13 years, the hopes for the success of the Union for the Mediterranean are much higher. (21). The total amount of FDI directed to the Mediterranean countries from Morocco to Turkey in 2000 – 2006 rose six fold to 59 billion USD (22), and the region registers a 4.4 percent annual growth of the gross domestic product (GDP). The nature of the investments is highly concentrated, since its main destinations are Turkey, Israel, and Egypt. Most of the investments come from Europe – out of which 12 billion USD fall to the French cement giant Lafarge that in 2006 invested in Egypt. Other investments coming from the USA were directed to the development and the production of the cosmic space components, “petrol investments” to real estate and construction came from the Arab countries, Brazilians invest in fertilizers and textile industries, while Indian investments are directed to the IT sector and the pharmaceutical industry of the rich region (23).
The economic development of the Mediterranean must face numerous obstacles. Not counting a few exceptions (e.g. Israel), the region has a bad infrastructure, low qualified working force and a huge unemployment rate. Despite a big amount of regional FDI, the regional trade cooperation is on a very low level, which prevents the utilization of the advantages coming from the specialization and the international division of labor. Besides the economic obstacles, the region of the North Africa and the Middle East must cope with political obstacles, e.g. question of Hosni Mubarak succession in Egypt, besieged Israel, the still not established Palestinian state, divided Lebanon, terrorist attacks in Morocco, bomb attacks in Algeria, Libyan autocracy of Muammar Gaddafi or the risk that Turkish courts will declare the activities of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) as anticonstitutional.
The main obstacle of the conference was the participation, or absence of the invited countries, on which the success of the whole initiative should depend (24). In order to raise the participation in the summit, the organizers dedicated more time to the following areas (instead of migration and fight against terrorism): construction of new maritime transport routes and ports, construction of new roadways in the North Africa (25), and cleansing of the Mediterranean Sea by 2020. Setting these topics by the EC meant a push into background for the main interest areas of France, such as nuclear energy, water supply and transport, i.e. the areas where France has strong commercial advantages.
Instead of that, the critics point at the need for higher investments in education and the preparation of the fast growing labor force of the region, as well as larger and easier accessibility of local farmers to the EU markets. Two days before the beginning of the summit, the Brussels branch of Amnesty International criticized the fact that the question of human rights was not a part of the program of the opening conference of the Union for the Mediterranean. According to the organization, the member states of the union should not avoid the question of human rights, because it could constitute a “dangerous precedent in relations to third countries, if we prefer business over human rights” stated Amnesty International. On Thursday, the organization appealed with its letter to president Sarkozy and the French presidency of the EU to return the human rights problems to the negotiation table (26). However, the leaders only briefly touched upon the question of human rights violations and authoritative regimes that are common for the other shore of the Mediterranean Sea, in order to raise the participation in the conference, and also due to the fact that the Union prefers development of mutual trade relations with a long-term prospect of promoting democracy in the partner countries. The presence of these points in the pillars of the Barcelona process is considered to be one of the reasons of passive engagement of the participating countries in the closer Euro-Mediterranean cooperation.
Another incentive motivating for the participation in the summit besides the signature of the founding treaty will be a 2-year presidency consisting of one representative of each side, i.e. EU-27 on one side and countries of the North Africa and the Middle East on the other side. In order to incite the interest in the union, the first presidency was offered to Egypt together with France. Moreover, to gain the favor of Morocco and other southern countries, a 20-member Permanent Secretariat will be established, with its seat in one of the southern cities, whose employees will come from both shore of the Mediterranean Sea (27). On a 1-day summit in Paris, the participants also agreed on the decision regarding the choice of the seat of the Secretariat to be taken at the meeting of the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the Union for the Mediterranean in November 2008, and the choice is to be made from the following cities: Barcelona, Casablanca, Tunis, Rabat, or Valletta.
Main challenges of the Union for Mediterranean
On July 13, 2008, during the founding summit of the Union for the Mediterranean, a report containing the first data about the countries that will constitute the future Union for the Mediterranean was released (28). The report is to become a motivational element for a larger and deeper engagement from the part of France and the EU in the region of the North Africa and the Middle East. The report shows that Med countries have a great potential for development, but in order to utilize it, following five challenges will have to be met:
1. Intensified growth: since 2002, the regional growth has reached a high sustainable level with a short- and medium-term perspective of 5% GDP growth in 2008 – 2009, while in the long-term perspective around the year 2030, according to the estimates of the World Bank, the region will have an annual growth of about 3.5 – 4 percent. According to the report, there is no financial crisis threatening the region, although slowing down of the American and European economy will have a negative impact on the economy of the region. High growth, as a consequence of economic development in Med countries, brings new impulses to the region, which will soon be comparable to the fast developing economies from the Latin America and the southeastern Asia region.
These projections are based on estimates of strong population dynamics of the region, weak productivity growth, attraction of more FDI and information and communication technologies with high added value.
2. participation in international trade architecture: the region is only partially open to the international trade, although it is active in raising its relative share. In 2005, the Med region registered 2.6 percent share in the world’s goods export (2.1% raise in relation to 1999) and 3.2% share in the world’s goods import (raise from 3% in 1999). Half of the Med countries is a party to the World Trade Organization (WTO), but the interregional foreign trade is very concentrated and on a very low level (in 2005, only 6percent). In the next years, the main challenges in this area will be to raise the diversification of the production scale and the export base of the region. The European Union plays a significant role in the foreign trade of the region. With the exception of Lebanon, Israel and Jordan, the EU is a destination of approximately half of the export coming from the Med region (in 2004 approximately 49%), while the share of the European products on the total import of the region is slightly lower (in 2004 around 45%). Despite the existing bilateral agreements on the creation of a free trade area with individual countries of the region (e.g. Jordan, Syria, Egypt, and Lebanon), the Agadir Agreement presumes an united approach from the part of the European Union to these four countries that committed themselves to the creation of a single economic area without any customs or administrative obstacles. Despite certain ambiguousness and disagreement in the areas of agriculture and industry, the results of a single area still are not well-marked. They should assist in intensifying the mutual trade of the EU with the countries of the Euro-Mediterranean cooperation.
3. intensification of the investment attractiveness: despite the current high inflation rate in the region that follows the world trend, the region has set decent macroeconomic indicators. During 1990s, the public debt of the region decreased from 80% to 60% of GDP, while the budget deficit has gone down from 5 percent to 3 percent. General growth in consumer prices also decreased considerably during the same period from 20 percent to 5 percent. Besides a high consumer demand, the main favorable factors are development of tourism with a high influx of foreign tourists, immigration, and high revenues from the direct and indirect sale of petrol and gasoline. Macroeconomic stability and unsaturation of the region attracts foreign investors to invest in the perspective, but also crisis countries in the North Africa and the Middle East. As a result of these processes, the share of Med countries in the total volume of FDI in the world has risen from low 1 percent in 2000 to 3.3 percent in 2005 and 4.5 percent in 2006. The EU as a partner within the Union for the Mediterranean could fully utilize the investment potential and expand its services to the region, despite being already the largest investor in the Med region (since 2003 approximately 48 per cent).
4. use of human capital: in the course of the last twenty years, the region has registered the largest population growth in the world, approximately 2.5 percent annually, and based on the demographic statistics, the Med region will have 38 percent share of the world population by 2030. Gratifying news is also that the enormous population growth is accompanied by a lowering mortality rate of newborns, and also increasing medium age of the population.
The population of the region is currently on the same road undertaken by the countries of South East Asia before their rapid development, when the number of the economically productive population constantly rises and it surpasses the number of economically non active population. In 2000, the portion of economically active people in the age 25-34 reached approximately 38 percent, and according to estimates it should reach half of the population of the region by 2030. The number of the population in the age 0 – 15 years should decrease from 32 per cent in 2005 to 27 per cent in 2020. Taking into consideration this vast human potential (29), adjustments in the educational system in the region should be made to stabilize the economic growth. Two thirds of university students study social science and humanities, since it is quite hard to be admitted to the sectors of medicine or technical universities due to large competition. It could present a grave problem, because the region that lives off of industry boom would need more highly qualified engineers to develop and manage the well-started industrial policy.
Another gap in this field consists in too low expenditure for the research and development (0.3 percent of GDP) that represent only a fraction of the world level, that being at approximately 1.4 per cent of GDP.
Taking into account the weaknesses, but also huge regional human potential, the EU countries as well as the Med member states could form regional or interregional public-private partnerships of educational institutions and companies of partner countries, and thus utilize know-how and innovative technologies that are the driving force of the developed and fast growing rest of the world.
5. management of shortage of natural resources: the reality in the region is the qualitatively lower and quantitatively smaller amount of water as a result of global warming. The water is used for various purposes in the field of irrigation in agriculture, fast industrialization and the production of electricity. The significance and still greater importance of water compared to oil in the Middle East can be illustrated on Syrian-Israeli conflict that was provoked by the occupation of Golan Heights by Israel, which draws about 15 per cent of its drinkable water from there. It is expected that by 2025, half of the population of the Mediterranean basin will not have access to safe drinkable water. The situation is alarming even today, as approximately half of the world population without sufficient access to water, that is less than 1000 m3 of water for a person a year live in the Med region. Their number is supposed to climb from 108 million people in 2000 to 165 million in 2025, and 63 million of them will have less than 500m3 of water for a person per year. The situation is likely to get worse, based on the high growth of population, urbanization, industrialization, irrigation, stronger impact of climatic changes, and the influence of tourist influx. Med countries are very dependent on the import of main agricultural commodities (meat, sugar, milk, cereals, etc.), since the agricultural production growth does not exceed the population and industrial growth. Another important factor is the growth of population, which by the consumption of imported goods drives the countries to still higher indebtness, linked also to the global rise of almost all agricultural commodities. The simultaneous growth of demand for energy sources that stimulate growth of industries based on energy sources causes huge damages to the environment.
Why the European Union?
After the World War II, the devastated Europe managed to overcome the ancient rivalry between the states on the European continent, and with the signing of the Treaty on founding of the European Coal and Steel Community in 1951 laid the basis for creation of an area of peace, stability and prosperity, enjoyed by the current 27 member states of the Union. Constitution of the Union that was originally founded on the basis of economic cooperation can serve as a precedent for the countries in all the regions of the world, especially for the countries of North America and Middle East. These regions have a great economic and human potential, able to assist a closer cooperation and intensify the economic and cultural relations between the countries of this region, geographically very close to the EU.
A high degree of mutual foreign trade of the Med countries with the European Union represents another argument in favor of the deepening of the Euro-Mediterranean cooperation. The EU is the largest trade partner of the Mediterranean countries, whose more than half of foreign trade is realized with the Union. All the industrial products coming from the Mediterranean have a customs-free access to the EU markets, while on the other side the import barriers for the industrial products from the EU are slowly being removed. Another step should be an enlargement of the free trade area to the agricultural and fishing products, later followed by the opening of Mediterranean markets to the services and investments coming from the Union. Moreover, the EU is not only the biggest investor, but also the largest provider of the development aid in the region. And lastly, most of the foreign visitors in the region come from the European continent.
Selected conference participants
One day before the Paris summit, important bilateral meetings took place, for example the first meeting of the new Lebanese president Michel Suleiman with his Syrian partner Bashar al-Assad, who still intervenes into the domestic and foreign politics of Lebanon. They were joined also by Qatar sheik Hamad bin Khalifa-al-Thani, who helped mediate the May agreement on the ending of the political crisis between Lebanese pro-Western and pro-Syrian fractions. Both leaders agreed for the first time since the independence of both countries in 1940s to establish permanent diplomatic missions in capitals of both countries, i.e. in Damascus and Beirut. In June, Syrian president declared that entering into diplomatic relations with Lebanon would be possible, if a government of national unity was formed in Beirut. Such a cabinet was created after weeks of discussion on Friday, including member of Hezbollah, which is a Syrian ally (30).
In the end, president Sarkozy, having recognized the Syrian position as a main mediator in the crisis Middle East region, asked Syria for assistance in subduing the nuclear ambitions of Iran, that being a target of a third sanctions package imposed by the United Nations under the pressure from the international community (31). However, as al-Assad said, Tehran has “no ambition to own nuclear weapons” (32). Sarkozy’s invitation of Syrian president raised quite a disturbance in France. The dissatisfaction of the non-governmental sector with the agenda of the conference caused the police arrest of Robert Menard, boss of non-governmental organization Reporters without Borders during the celebrations of the Day of Bastille for protesting against Assad’s presence. He together with ten other demonstrators shouted pro-democratic slogans on Champs Elysees before the beginning of the military parade.
Syria is criticized for being responsible for the attack on the French members of the UN troops in 1993 in Beirut, resulting in 58 casualties, and also for the murders of Lebanese politicians, including former Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri. French leadership decided to renew the contacts with Syria on a high level after the agreement that liberated Lebanon from the threat of a new civil war. .(33)
Another success of the summit was appeasing of tensions between the EU and Damascus, brought by the boss of EU’s foreign policy Javier Solana. The European Union could sign the long-postponed association treaty with Syria this year, Syria being the only country in the region that does not have this institutional cooperation framework with the Union (34).
The negotiations between Syrian President and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert under the auspices of Turkey could lead to entering into close relations. The two leaders met for the first time at a common roundtable with the participation of other rivals from the Mediterranean; however a marked success was not achieved, as was expected. Syria, for which the arrival to Paris means its return to the international scene, demands a return of Golan Heights occupied by Israel in 1967, while the Israeli objections focus mainly on the support of Iranian regime and Lebanese (possibly also Palestinian) militant aggressors, whose goal is a total annihilation of Israel. That is the reason why the border between the two countries is still closed. Syrian president asked France for an active engagement in solving of the Syrian-Israeli conflict, since according to him the current US government has no interest in the peace-building process in the crisis Middle East region (35). As he further noted, the American forces will not deal with the peace process before the new American president accedes into office in January 2009.
On the day of the summit, Syrian president left the room before the speech of Israeli Prime Minister. Although Israeli sources do not want to reveal the reason for his sudden departure, it is probable that he did not wish to interfere with Olmert’s words with his comments.
On the same day, a meeting between Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas took place. Both expressed hope and willingness to continue in formal peace talks that started during the Middle East conference in American Annapolis in 2007. As a part of the efforts to advance in the bilateral peace negotiations, at the meeting with Palestinian President, Israeli Prime Minister agreed to release an unspecified number of Palestinian prisoners, mediated by the humanitarian organization Red Cross at a maritime cross border (36). Both leaders asked Sarkozy as President of France that currently holds the rotating EU presidency and hosts the summit of the Union for the Mediterranean, to take the auspices over the talks (37).
Also present at the summit were Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, together with the Moroccan representative Crown Prince Moulay Rachid, brother of King Muhammad VI., who substituted for the King, despite the border disputes and long-lasting conflict about the Western Sahara. Both leaders expressed hope for solution of the problems by diplomatic way at the summit. It is the rivalry of these countries that prevented creation of single market in the North Africa and out flux of FDI that were primarily directed at these countries. Sarkozy promised help and support in the field of the nuclear energy development in the country, in order to persuade Moroccan King to attend the summit (38). However, even these promises could not persuade King to change his work program and participate in the negotiations. Although Algerian President doubted the willingness of the EU to assist in the bringing together of the Mediterranean countries, he expressed hope for simplification of the issuing of entry visa into the EU for the travelers from northern Africa in close future. Moroccan Prince, however, expressed his conviction about the success of the Euro-Mediterranean project.
After public condemnation of Sarkozy’s initiative to create the Union for Mediterranean, Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi refused to attend the summit .(39) He called the new block a neocolonial effort to undermine the unity of Arab and African states and he warned that it will be subject to terrorist attacks for Islamic radicals. He let himself be represented by lower standing politicians, and thus joined the group of Jordanian king Abdullah II or Moroccan prince Moulay Rachid. Other Arab countries also adopt a cautious approach to the common forum, since they do not want to advance fast in the normalization of the relations with Israel. Iran and Syria are part of this group, because they still cannot be reconciled with the creation of Israeli state (40).
Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan, who originally saw the proposed union as a way for refusing a full membership of Turkey in the EU structures, said that he would try to come to the summit .(41) In the end, after having received French guarantees that the Union for Mediterranean will not in any way influence the projections of Turkish membership in the EU, he declared the will of Ankara to play an active role in forming and leading the Union for the Mediterranean. During the negotiations before the summit, Sarkozy introduced the question of the legitimacy of the current Turkish government and he “expressed hope” for a quick decision of Constitutional Court that deals with the affair. The affair has surely become another argument in the hands of Sarkozy, who does not see Turkey as part of European democratic countries, either from geographical or cultural point of view. At the end of 30-minute talks Sarkozy asked Turkey to mediate the good services in solving the Syrian-Israeli conflict .(42)
In 1989, US State Secretary John Hay declared that the Mediterranean area was the „ocean of the past”, Atlantic to be the „ocean of the present”, and the area of Pacific the „ocean of the future”. Although his suppositions came true and the Asian-Pacific cooperation APEC is a classical example of a robust economic grouping with more than half share on the world foreign trade and the world creation of GDP, the economic, cultural and human potential present in the rich, but also crisis Middle East and North African region should not be underestimated.
Thanks to French President Sarkozy, who brought innovative impulses into the revival of the Euro-Mediterranean cooperation that started thirteen years ago in Barcelona, the interest of the European Union in the Mediterranean has notably risen. According to his words, the Mediterranean area is not past, but future of all Europeans. That is why the solution to the urgent problems that Europe faces, should be searched for at the other shore of Mediterranean Sea.
Time will tell whether the Conference on founding the Union for the Mediterranean that extends to three continents is an expression of nostalgy for the colonial hegemony era, an instrument of peace for the Middle East region suffering from centuries of conflict, a tool that will bring prosperity to a poor region, or even a way to achieve the exclusion of full membership of Turkey in the European Union.
One is certain: France realized the necessity to return to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and to support the operations of its forces in the area of the Middle East and North Africa. The European Union will, by creating an area of peace, stability and prosperity in the region, and in close cooperation with NATO, manage and prevent other conflicts that would be harmful to around 1 billion of citizens of the transatlantic area, formed by the member states of NATO and EU.
The results of the summit organized with the same goal seem to be a good start for fulfilling such intentions.
sud-.php(3) Wadlow, R.: Mediterranean-Black Sea Union: Stormy Sailing Ahead? In: Transnational Perspectives. http://www.transnational-perspectives.org/transnational/articles/
(4) Global policy towards Mediterranean was based on the association treaties of EC with Turkey (1964), Malta (1971), Cyprus (1972), and cooperation agreements with Israel (1975), Morocco (1976), Tunisia (1976), Algeria (1976), Jordan (177), Syria (1977), Lebanon (1977), and Egypt (1977).
(5) There have been 6 conferences about the Euro-Mediterranean cooperation so far.
(6) Twelve Questions about the Euro-Mediterranean Cooperation: The Barcelona Process explained. Oficiálne stránka Európskej komisie. http://ec.europa.eu/europeaid/where/neighbourhood/documents/
(7) In 2006, the turnover of the foreign trade of the EU with the Med countries, excluding Turkey, reached approximately 120 billion EUR.
(8) Euro-Med (44) is formed by the coastal countries of the North Africa and the Middle East (12 countries), i.e. Algeria, Mauretania, Morocco, Tunisia, Libya (as observer since 1999), Egypt, Israel, Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Syria, and Palestinian autonomy, as well as the entire EU-27 together with Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Monaco and Montenegro (5).
(9) Predsedníctvo je Sarkozyho šanca na Blízkom východe. Hospodárske noviny. 11. 7.2008. http://www.hnonline.sk/svet/c1-25951960-predsednictvo-je-
(10) J. Kubiš členom delegácie SR na summit Únie pre Stredomorie. Bratislava, Ministerstvo zahraničných vecí SR. 12. 7. 2008.
(11) Besides 43 participating countries founding the Union of the Mediterranean and European Commission, representatives of the UN, World Bank, Arab League, African Union and Council for Cooperation in the Persian Gulf were invited to the capital on Siena.
(12) Club Med. The Boston Globe. 12. 7. 2008. http://www.boston.com/bostonglobe/editorial_opinion/editorials/
(13) Author of the document is Henri Guain.
(14) France´s Club Med. The Financial Times. 11. 7. 2008. http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/df5d7ba2-4ee0-11dd-ba7c-000077b07
(15) Sarkozy to host Arab and Israeli leaders at launch of ‘club Med’. The Independent. 12. 7. 2008. http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/sarkozy-to-host-
(16) Erlanger, S.: Union of Mediterranean, About to Be Inaugurated, May Be Mostly Show. The New York Times. 7. 7. 2008. http://www.nytimes.com/2008/07/07/world/europe/07sarkozy.html?
(17) Member states of the Danube commission were invited as members of the Black Sea Union that should start its activities in the 2nd half of 2009.
(18) Özerkan, F.: Black Sea Union a ‘chance’ for Turkey to prove itself. The Turkish Daily News. 31. 3. 2008. http://www.turkishdailynews.com.tr/article.php?enewsid=106009
(19) Summit approves ‘Union for the Mediterranean’. In: EurActiv. 14. 3. 2008. http://www.euractiv.com/en/enlargement/summit-approves-union-
(20) Paris Summit will launch “Barcelona Process: Union for the Mediterranean”. Portál Európskej únie. 11. 7. 2008. http://europa.eu/rapid/pressReleasesAction.do?reference=IP/08/
(22) For comparison, in 2006 the total amount of FDI within Mercosur reached 25 billion USD.
(23) The Mediterranean Economy: Club Med. The Economist. 10. 7. 2008. http://www.economist.com/opinion/displayStory.cfm?Story_ID=
(24) Jose Ignacio Toreblanca. European Council on Foreign Relations.
(25) It is in the interest of Egypt to build so called coastal highway from Egyptian Alexandria to Moroccan Tanger, which is a main African gateway to Europe.
(26) Aktivisti: Únia pre Stredomorie nehovorí o ľudských právach. Denník SME. 11. 7. 2008. http://www.sme.sk/c/3971682/Aktivisti-Unia-pre-Stredomorie-
(27) Erlanger, S.: Union of Mediterranean, About to Be Inaugurated, May Be Mostly Show. The New York Times. 7. 7. 2008. http://www.nytimes.com/2008/07/07/world/europe/07sarkozy.html?
(28) Besson, E.: Cinq défis pour les pays du sud et de l’est de la Méditerranée. 13. 7. 2008. http://www.premier-ministre.gouv.fr/chantiers/europe_864/cinq_defis
(29) In most countries of the North Africa and the Middle East, almost all finish basic education, approximately only 75 percent continue their studies in high schools, and only a fraction of them (20.6 percent) applies for university studies, most commonly in the social sciences and humanities. Education in all the levels is free of charge.
(30) Sarkozy: Sýria a Libanon vytvoria vzájomné diplomatické styky. Hospodárske noviny. 13. 7. 2008. http://www.hnonline.sk/svet/c1-25959780-sarkozy-syria-a-libanon-
(31) France hosts Mediterranean summit. The BBC News. 13. 7. 2008. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/7503838.stm
(32) Sarkozy: Získanie jadrových zbraní Iránom je nepredstaviteľné. Hospodárske noviny. 13. 7. 2008. http://www.hnonline.sk/svet/c1-25959770-al-assad-iran-nema-umysel
(33) Sarkozy začal rokovania s lídrami Blízkeho východu. Denník SME. 12. 7. 2008. http://www.sme.sk/c/3972919/Sarkozy-zacal-rokovania-s-lidrami-
(34) Solana: EÚ by mohla čoskoro uzavrieť dohodu so Sýriou. Denník SME. 13. 7. 2008. http://www.sme.sk/c/3973937/Solana-EU-by-mohla-coskoro-
(35) Murphy, F.: Syria, Lebanon vow reconciliation before EU-Med summit. The Star Online. 13. 7. 2008. http://thestar.com.my/news/story.asp?file=/2008/7/13/worldupdates/
(36) Izraelský premiér súhlasil s prepustením ďalších palestínskych väzňov. TASR. 13. 7. 2008. http://www.tasr.sk/24.axd?k=20080713TBB00148
(37) Olmert: Izrael a Palestínčania nikdy neboli k dohode bližšie. Hospodárske noviny. 13. 7. 2008. http://www.hnonline.sk/svet/c1-25960870-olmert-izrael-a-
(38) Dedeoglu, B.: Union for the Mediterranean. Todays Zaman. 12. 7. 2008. http://http://www.zaman.com/tz-web/yazarDetay.do?haberno=147270
(39) Waterfield, B.: Gaddafi attacks Sarkozy plan for Union of the Med. In: The Telegraph. 10. 7. 2008. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/2277517/
(40) Sarkozy štartuje projekt Stredomorskej únie. In: Hospodárske noviny. 11. 7. 2008. http://www.hnonline.sk/svet/c1-25948460-sarkozy-startuje-projekt
(41) Ganey, E.: France launching watered-down Mediterranean union. Associated Press. 11. 7. 2008. http://ap.google.com/article/ALeqM5j0B7jx8emBe04mrsuUv9n_
(42) Turkey, France seal EU détente at Euro-Mediterranean summit. Todays Zaman. 14. 7. 2008. http://www.zaman.com/tz-web/detaylar.do?load=detay&link=147488