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Sereni: The Mediterranean is facing challenges and opportunities (Avvenire)

Dear Director,

once again Med-Dialogue has confirmed itself as the main instrument of soft power in our country and the key event for a reflection on the future of the enlarged Mediterranean. And once again, for the sixth time running, Rome has been the priority focus for reflection on an area that lies at the crossroads of three continents and on the stability and prosperity of which our own stability and prosperity depends. This year, the Covid emergency forced us to adopt a virtual format. Despite this, from November 25 to December 4, we had about 50 events, with 235 panelists, 40 thousand live participants and almost 4 million views, to date. With very few exceptions, the heads of the main international organizations, and almost all the foreign ministers of the Mediterranean and Middle East, as well as the major EU countries, were able to present and discuss their viewpoints on the problems of the area. The Med community now gathers thousands of politicians, economists, religious leaders, entrepreneurs, experts, journalists, representatives of civil society. The key focus of the event was – and it could not have been otherwise – the impact of the pandemic, which has forced us all to rethink some fundamental paradigms of our action, also with regard to foreign policy. So, we took it on ourselves to rethink the 4 pillars of Med: security, prosperity, migration, culture and civil society, according to the proactive perspective of an Agenda for the future. In my speeches, in particular on security issues and in the Forums dedicated to women and young people, I was confronted with the crises and tensions in the area, old, new, under way. From Libya, whose stabilization is a prerequisite for the stabilization of the entire area, and for which the only possible path remains a political solution in harmony with the United Nations and the Berlin Process, which was launched thanks to the strong impetus and support of Italy. To Syria, a humanitarian catastrophe now ten years old, a battleground between the regional powers; a tormented country and people, to whom we dedicated the testimony of Aeham Ahmad, the pianist of Yarmook. From Lebanon where, thanks also to the Unifil mission, Italy is playing a fundamental role in a difficult and complex stabilization process. To relaunching the Middle East peace process, which, despite the positive news of the Abraham Agreements, still needs direct negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians, in order to achieve the only truly sustainable solution, the “Two States” solution. And, finally to Iran, where there was almost a live discussion with Foreign Minister Zarif on the initial openings by the President-elect Joe Biden on the Jcpoa. And much more besides, impossible to summarize here.
In his conclusions, Minister Di Maio quoted a beautiful sentence by Fatima Mernissi, the great Moroccan writer. Zaman, time, is like the wound of the Arabs: a world suspended between taqlid (tradition) and modernity. But it is also the situation we are all experiencing on both sides of the Mediterranean in these difficult times. Past, present and, finally, future are the key words for interpreting this Med. The past is fundamental to understanding the dynamics under way, the conflicts and tensions, whose origins are rooted in history. The present is marked by a pandemic that has made the world a fragile place and, in particular, an area marked by over twenty years of instability, in which the existing fault lines are widening more and more. Finally, the future and, I must add, the feeling of hope which greatly heartened me in the Forums dedicated to women and young people, where we discussed the positive and proactive commitment with which women and young people are making a decisive contribution to overcoming the tragedy and building a better future. And in which testimonies and projects emerged, as well as an enormous energy that is also up to Italy and Europe to channel towards a future of shared security and prosperity.

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