[EN] Video Transcript

When one examines the perspective of international relations that focuses on culture, there tends to be an under-appreciation I believe, of the importance of enhancing cultural relations and in the analysis, I was able to conduct, and I appreciate very much the opportunity provided to me by the Anna Lindh Foundation, which in itself has been fostering nurturing and enhancing intercultural relations at a Euro Mediterranean level of analysis in the past two decades, I believe that it is of prime importance to appreciate that if we want to seriously effectively and in a sustainable manner, change the dynamic of inter cooperative relations across the Mediterranean area, culture has to be the key to open this door. To be more specific, I'm thinking of creating opportunities at an educational level. 

Obviously, one's developmental years when they are being exposed for the first time, through schooling, and through other types of didactic opportunities. 

One's familiarity, and also appreciation of different cultures of diverse traditions is seen at one on two being able to develop what I would refer to as something that is still quite weak and are part of the world, a Mediterranean personality, the extent to which we in the Mediterranean are able to firstly understand secondly, appreciate and thirdly then also very much live a life of European, Arab, Judeo understandings this milieu of the Mediterranean, in a way that while we have our own identity, we appreciate that the Mediterranean, the diversity and unity of the Mediterranean is something that enriches us and should not in any form or manner, divide us which, unfortunately, tends to be the case. 

And one of the reasons I think this is the case is firstly, we don't focus enough on this issue. But secondly, it's not enough to say focus, what I believe is necessary is to put forward a policy framework that allows for the capacity building in the different areas of culture, that one will be able to learn first and then respect you must learn first, you must gain insight and knowledge first, and then respect and tolerance for me, would not even be necessary, because by learning and respect, already, both trust and tolerance will be embedded. 

Here I refer to thought, the importance of allowing, not just face but an integration of civil society, in both the policy debates, but also implementation of the Euro-Med policy framework. It's good that we have the political framework, it's very important that we have the economic resources.

 And obviously, you need the political will to put forward an agenda of change and dynamism that fosters more intercultural cooperation.

 But ultimately, the key stakeholder and any type of perspective that deals with culture have to be civil society. And while we've seen very significant progress when it comes to engaging civil society, both in education, specifically when it comes to human rights, women's rights, fostering better appreciation of children's rights, we still have a lot to do, but at least we've moved forward from where we were 20 years ago, I believe much more needs to be done. 

And that will only happen if we support civil society's engagement and allow them ownership of the implementation, once decisions are taken to enhance intercultural cooperation.

I was very appreciative when I was asked by the Anna Lindh Foundation, who have been practicing what we are preaching when it comes to intercultural cooperation, allowing creating space for a more coherent and consistent voice of civil society in every societal discussion that either is happening or is it still at an embryonic stage in the different societies across the Euro Mediterranean area.

 And I look forward to continuing to participate in this vibrant discussion so that as we move ahead in the months and years to come together with the Anna Lindh Foundation, and other stakeholders, of course, including the European Union, we are able to implement a intercultural framework at a Euro Mediterranean level, that augers for a much more peaceful and stable Mediterranean region.