There needs to be a bridge today uniting the two shores of the Mediterranean to encourage democratic processes in North Africa, and “OSCE has a role to play, along with Italy” in the achievement of this goal. These were the sentiments expressed by Under-Secretary Staffan De Mistura today as he opened the OSCE Mediterranean conference at the foreign ministry in Rome.
The OSCE experience
As De Mistura underscored, OSCE can offer the young democracies of the Mediterranean the benefit of “experience in democratic transition” it gained in the 1990s after the fall of the Berlin Wall. And Italy, for “natural geographical and political reasons” believes that the Mediterranean partnership needs to be strengthened to “support the Partners’ path towards stability and democratization, consistently with the inclusive and holistic approach to security (…) of OSCE”.
New models of multilateral academic cooperation
De Mistura then pointed out that the last OSCE Mediterranean conference held at the foreign ministry in May had “paved the way to the establishment of new patterns of multilateral academic cooperation” with Minister Terzi’s proposed OSCE-Med project: a platform for OSCE experts, major European thinks-tanks and academic centres and representatives of the civil society to discuss initiatives for strengthening relations with the southern shores of the Mediterranean..
Thanks to Minister for Foreign Affairs Giulio Terzi’s impetus, Italy is in the forefront in promoting relations between the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and the six Mediterranean nations – Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Egypt, Jordan and Israel – that have been its partners since 1996. It is Italy’s firm conviction, in the wake of the Arab Spring, that OSCE’s history, experience and instruments can be especially effective in fostering the stabilisation of democratic processes in the region.
Mediterranean Conference at the foreign ministry
The Mediterranean Conference taking place today and tomorrow at the foreign ministry in Rome falls within the framework of Italy’s efforts toward the development of the OSCE-Mediterranean partnership. The conference’s highest post of Secretary General has been held since July by Italian diplomat Lamberto Zannier. The conference is the partnership’s most important annual event, and is dedicated to economic cooperation with the countries of the southern Mediterranean, a fundamental factor in consolidating the transitions under way in those countries and in the region’s development and its peoples’ coexistence.
Participants include the representatives of the 56 OSCE Member States, 6 Mediterranean partners, Libya, the UN Secretary General’s Special Envoy for Libya Tarek Mitri, the Palestinian National Authority, financial institutions and international organisations such as the World Bank and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, academic experts and the civil society.