On 3 to 4 December, Rome will host the seventh edition of the Mediterranean Dialogues, an initiative sponsored by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation and ISPI, which has since established itself as the main international event dedicated to the Wider Mediterranean, an area of extraordinary geopolitical importance spreading from the Sahel to the Balkans, from North Africa to the Persian Gulf, with Italy at the centre. The Conference is the culmination of a year long journey, during which the thoughts and reflections on the main challenges that face the Region are developed and evolved, in the awareness that the complexity of the dynamics under way and the high degree of mutual interconnection require an ongoing commitment to study and dialogue.
This year’s edition is titled “Leveraging Transitions”, inspired by the need to leverage the different political, social, economic, energy and digital transitions involved. Think of the green transition and how it increases the centrality of the Mediterranean for energy security; or the digital transition, a catalyst for modernisation, integration and competitiveness on both sides.
Managing transitions in an interdependent world requires a collective effort and strengthened cooperation. The Mediterranean, historically, has been a space for dialogue and exchange. Our ambition is to continue to provide, through the Med Dialogues, a workshop for redefining our common action in the light of today’s challenges.
Building on this, we wish to and must invest further by putting people at the centre, especially young people, who will be the focus of one of the forums on the sidelines of the Med Dialogues, and by supporting their capacity for innovation and growth. Thus, and in continuity with the approach spearheaded by the Italian Presidency of the G20, we can revitalise the traditional objective of the Med Dialogues: building a “Positive Agenda”, which looks to the Mediterranean not as an epicentre of strife, but to recognise its extraordinary potential, first and foremost as a material and ideal platform for connecting Europe, Africa and Asia, united in a single macro-continent.
We must not let the ideological rivalries, competition for control of resources, and outbreak of new crises, on top of those which have been left unresolved for too long, weaken our efforts, but rather strengthen our resolve to counter the negative dynamics. With this in mind, the “Rome Med Dialogues” are an important piece of the wider mosaic of Italy’s actions for the future of the Mediterranean region, based on the desire to protect and manage, in a shared manner, the “Mediterranean common goods”, which are the environment, the sea (blue economy), research and digital innovation, scientific and cultural diplomacy, mobility, health. These very same issues are also at the heart of the European Union’s “New Agenda for the Mediterranean”, which by no coincidence Italy has inspired and supported with conviction, with a view to reviving the partnership between the EU and its Southern Neighbourhood by stimulating a green, digital, resilient and fair recovery.
Last but not least, the Mediterranean Dialogues are an opportunity, for Italy, to come back centre stage in the Mediterranean, the “Sea between the Lands”, as the driving force of a positive agenda that can contribute, in a spirit of partnership, to resolving the many critical issues that still affect the Region, by leveraging dialogue and cooperation. This approach is inspired by Italy’s important diplomatic heritage, built up, since after World War II, by many great personalities from across the post-war constitutional spectrum, and owes a debt to the groundbreaking work – unique and internationally appreciated – of our Universities and Research Centres, which are also at the forefront of the effort to transform the Mediterranean into an area of shared prosperity.