We are writing as 12 young people of different nationalities: Algerian, Greek, Egyptian, French, Italian, Moroccan, Lebanese, Spanish, Syrian, Tunisian, and Turkish. Some of us know each other but all of us have lived around the same sea: the Mediterranean. Geography and History have simultaneously divided us and bound us, as collective projects and tragic episodes have been succeeding each other.
However, in recent years mutual distrust has reached a peak. Many Europeans were skeptical vis-a-vis the Arab Spring, and the political discourse emphasising on topics such as immigration or religious fanaticism reached a very large audience. On the other hand, for many of those in North Africa, the Eastern Mediterranean and the Levant, words such as ‘peace’ and ‘stability’ have become synonyms for
‘delusion’ and ‘stolen dream’, a dream stolen by distant cousins Anyone who knows the Mediterranean area will have experienced and observed that bitterness towards the political class.
Who knows today about the action of the Union for the Mediterranean? Its multipartite meetings gather representatives of 43 countries, bringing for example Israelis and Palestinians into dialogue.
But the 21st century provides reasons for hope. According to UN projections, the Mediterranean region’s population will grow from 180 million to almost 300 million by 2050. Thanks to demography, the Mediterranean can remain a pivotal region of the world, ‘a bridge’ between the European Union, Africa and Asia. It is up to all of us to make it happen. We, young people, we know that another Mediterranean already exists because we are experiencing it everyday. That Mediterranean is the one of citizens forums, of transnational start-ups, of the MUCEM, of underground cinema, of big projects that are too lightly publicised. Who knows today about the action of the Union for the Mediterranean? Its multipartite meetings gather representatives of 43 countries, bringing for example Israelis and Palestinians into dialogue. The UFM has worked on 100 regional projects such as a desalination factory in Gaza, a Northern African highway and a training initiative called “Med4Jobs”.
These remarkable initiatives must be reinforced by strong engagement from civil society. Through this contribution, we strive after three main objectives:
- Publicising individual and collective initiatives, through media & social networks, national and international agencies. On that issue let us remember the words of Lebanese Author Khalil Gebran : “A little knowledge that acts is worth infinitely more than much knowledge that is idle”.
- Pressuring national institutions, or the European Union (through for example the European right of petition guaranteed by the European Charter of rights, Art. 44) to grant more funds to the UPM.
- Above all, in the context of the next European Elections, asking the European parties to make the Mediterranean issue central on the political agenda. The Mediterranean will have two sides forever. May there be only one wave crossing
it one day. Who knows, we may find, after the Arab Spring, “a beautiful summer that does not fear Autumn, in Mediterranean” (G.Moustaki).