PRESS RELEASE ISSUED BY THE MINISTRY FOR FOREIGN AFFARIS AND THE ANNA LINDH FOUNDATION: Regional institutions meeting in Valletta collectively back MED FORUM 2016 agenda

Regional institutions working for a renewed Mediterranean Dialogue agenda in the face of unprecedented regional challenges have committed to collective action ahead of next month’s MED FORUM in Malta, the largest gathering of civil society and youth for intercultural dialogue.

This week’s meeting, hosted at the Maltese Ministry for Foreign Affairs (MFA), was the latest in a series of an inter-institutional process which is involving for the first time the EU (external affairs and central services), the League of Arab States headquarters, the Secretariat of the Union for the Mediterranean (UfM), MEDAC, the MFA of Malta, and the Anna Lindh Foundation international headquarters.

MFA’s Alfred Zarb, a founding senior official of the Euro-Mediterranean process in 1995, opened the meeting by underlining the importance of leveraging next month’s 42-country MED FORUM to now “bring the Euro-Med project to citizens across the region”. Executive Director of the EU Presidency unit Victor Camilleri reinforced the centrality of the Forum to reconnect citizens ahead of the first Maltese Presidency of the European Council (first semester 2017), with evidence of a growing gap between citizens and institutions, and the importance of “youth as a transversal agent for change” in the face of extremism and shared socio-economic challenges.

The inter-institutional meeting focused on the final programme agenda for next month’s gathering, with the Executive Director of the Anna Lindh Foundation, Hatem Atallah, underlining how the MED FORUM process has already been “a catalyst for collaboration” among the regional organisations and global networks, at a time when “the common regional challenges are greater than the individual organisations facing them”. He also stated that the Forum would be a “coming of age” for the Foundation as the region’s reference point for intercultural dialogue, and a milestone to launch a new chapter of strategic programming for intercultural action.

Eleonora Insalaco, coordinator of the MED FORUM task-force and programmes manager at the Foundation’s headquarters, presented the Forum agenda which has been built through a unique 8-month programming process involving intercultural experts, national civil society coordinators, youth sector representatives and regional institutions. She also confirmed that 600 international delegates from all 42 Member States of the Union for the Mediterranean (UfM) are registered for next month’s gathering, among them heads of international organisations including UNESCO, the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), the World Leadership Alliance-Club de Madrid, UfM, Friends of Europe, and Search for Common Ground.

The latest inter-institutional meeting in Valletta had a particular focus on new areas of regional policy and programming to be launched through MED FORUM 2016 and during the Maltese EU Presidency. The representative of the EU’s External Action Service (EEAS) underlined at the meeting the importance of now translating into action the renewed policy impetus for dialogue and people-to-people cooperation, as expressed in the new EU Neighbourhood Policy, International Cultural Relations strategy, and first Global Strategy launched this month by the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy. It has also been proposed to leverage the large-scale civil society gathering to prepare the first Ministerial Meetings on Intercultural Dialogue and Youth at the UfM level.

Source: Government of Malta