Former Prime Minister Romano Prodi opened the 10th annual Anna Lindh Foundation on Monday with the message that Europe needs greater awareness of its Mediterranean role, overcoming "divisions" that for years have prevented implementation of active policies. The event will be a window on inter-cultural dialogue at a time of great crisis and violence on the Mediterranean's southern shores. Prodi told AGI that, "Europe has not implemented policies in the Mediterranean, committed to a decade ago." He added, "There is no European initiative and countries are divided. Europe is effectively absent from all foreign policy scenarios." After the 1995 Barcelona Process, Euro-Mediterranean policy stalled and there has been division and jealousy. Prodi will open the foundation's meeting together with the EU's Commissioner for Enlargement Sefan Fule and Foundation president, Andre Azoulay.
The three-day event, hosted by the Mediterranean Foundation, will see 250 delegates from 42 countries, civil society, regional governments, media and politics. "The Barcelona Process objectives are still achievable, but require greater political and economic commitment. Today there is a political void, a shift," said Prodi. Phenomena such as ISIS may have appeared anyway, but no European unity "has provided a fertile breeding ground." Prodi added, "What happened in Iraq, in Syria, the permanent tension between Palestine and Israel. All this should be addressed with strong, united policies. This is not happening." Prodi said of Libya, "There we saw Europe divided. The Germans, French, British and Italians have completely different attitudes. The Libyan war was not the result of shared decisions." He added that the war was not started by Europe, but there were sins of omission. Prodi said there is talk of NATO's or Turkey's role in the Mediterranean's emergencies, without considering that this sea is the best place for a European initiative. "I have often been told by countries on the southern shore, that we are the best traders, that we are the people with whom trade relations are closest and we are those who invest most in the area and know it best." With a touch of bitterness, Prodi added that "when there are great problems, high levels of tension, the ball is in the American court." When asked what Europe should do, Prodi said, "take real initiative, both in politics and cultural cooperation. The Anna Lindh Foundation has these features, aimed at dialogue between people. This is a role that the EU should remember it must play." Prodi said, "When I was president of the EU Commission, we created a body for dialogue between people and cultures in the area and prepared a project called 'the Ring of People', of cooperation between people in the north, the EU and surrounding countries, including those on the Mediterranean. These were political projects that never went beyond the planning stage. I hope that there will be an awareness of Europe's role." (AGI) .
Produced in association with AGI – Media Partner
The Anna Lindh Foundation is co-funded by the European Union and the 42 countries of the Union for the Mediterranean (UfM). The views expressed do not necessarily reflect the position of the EU or any UfM Member State.