Union for the Mediterranean
Paris, March 2 , 2011
The Union for the Mediterranean is a fine idea. I’m tempted to say it’s an idea that’s more necessary than ever. The Mediterranean Sea is our sea, as the Ancients used to say (1), the cradle of European civilization. It’s the cradle of the three great religions of the book, which are our shared heritage.
It [the Union for the Mediterranean] has encountered obstacles on its way. First, the deadlock in the peace process between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, which neither the European Union nor Mr Obama’s diplomacy has been able to restart.
The second obstacle is the revolutions taking place at the moment in the Arab countries of the southern Mediterranean, which I won’t dwell on any further.
What have we got to do? Forge ahead, not give up. Relaunch the Union for the Mediterranean. It’s absolutely necessary. Firstly, because it’s our duty to support the peoples of the South in their march towards democracy. This isn’t a foregone conclusion. Tunisia, Libya and Egypt’s fate hangs in the balance. The best is possible, the worst is possible. Our duty is to work with them for the best. Secondly, it’s in our interest. Our interest is to ensure that development on both shores allows citizens of the South to live at home, on their land, in their country and find the peace, freedom, work and prosperity they have the right to expect there. This is what we’re going to do by relaunching the Union for the Mediterranean with the support of every European Union country: I’ve seen it for myself in the past 48 hours. It will be on the European Council agenda on 11 March, devoted to Libya, and a bit later on 24 March.
We’ll be drawing more on the European proximity policy. I believe there are times when, even though dreams can seem Utopian, it’s dreams that shake up the real world./.
(1) Mare nostrum (“our sea”) was a name the Romans had for the Mediterranean Sea