UfM: tragedies on southern shores an issue for entire EU

Euro-med future never so important, Italy's Deputy FM

15 November, 19:32

    The Culture Committee of the UfM Parliamentary Assembly meeting in the Italian Parliament The Culture Committee of the UfM Parliamentary Assembly meeting in the Italian Parliament

    (ANSAmed) - ROME - Culture, films, and university education all play a role in Euro-Mediterranean integration. However, at the Culture Committee of the Union for the Mediterranean (UfM) Parliamentary Assembly meeting in Rome on Friday, regional crises including migrant deaths at sea and the Syrian conflict took center-stage. ''Never has the future of the Euro-Mediterranean community been this important for the identity of all of Europe'', said Deputy Foreign Minister Marta Dassu' at the meeting held in the Italian lower house of parliament. The meeting was chaired by the Italian MP Khalid Chaouki. ''If we convey the message that there are only threats coming from the southern Mediterranean, there is a risk that anti-European populist trends will grow stronger and the very identity of Europe will be brought into question.'' However, she continued, ''Europe's ability to influence the southern Mediterranean has been reduced compared with the past'', since what economic assistance it can afford to provide has been limited by the economic crisis and surpassed ''by the large donors: Gulf nations'', which did not hesitate to send millions of dollars to Egypt in its transitional crisis. Thus, European 'soft power' needs to be recreated, Dassu' said, through culture, e-learning, information, and universities. As concerns the emergency of migrants falling victim to human traffickers, and those that die at sea in the attempt to reach Europe - such as the recent tragedy off Lampedusa - ''Italy is doing everything possible'' to deal with the situation ''according to law and respect for human rights'', Dassu' said, noting that ''Foreign Minister Emma Bonino is working to raise awareness on the issue in Europe''. And while it is true that Germany accepts more asylum seekers, she added, ''we are the ones that deal with initial reception of migrants on behalf of Europe''. Deputy Chamber of Deputies Speaker Marina Sereni made the opening remarks at the meeting, taking note that there had been 365 casualties in the ''terrible tragedy of the Lampedusa shipwreck'' in early October. It was one of many, too many - she said - on which ''Europe must take action, not simply leaving border countries to deal with it''. ANSA Chairman Giulio Anselmi instead showed skepticism about the EU's ability to respond to Italy's request for ''concrete actions'' towards a common Mediterranean policy, noting that there is a historical and cultural ''separateness'' between northern and southern European countries. Thus, it is even more important, he said, to ''reduce the lack of attention from large sections of the public opinion'', through new policies for dialogue and communications strategies.

    And while the ANSA news agency closely follows the Mediterranean crises, such a coverage cannot alone meet the need to tell the story of what is happening in the Mediterranean. This is the reason for the over ten years of service by ANSAmed, a website and network of 22 news agencies which follows non only the principles of transparent and independent coverage, but also that of ''reciprocity'' of information. Through its news services in Italian, English and Arabic, Anselmi added, ANSAmed marks an extremely important part of ANSA's internationalization efforts. Nuova Europa, which focuses on the Balkans, is the latest addition to the latter. However, ANSAmed also offers events and exchange projects in the fields of technology and training, he added. And it is in collaboration with the UfM Parliamentary Assembly Culture Committee that the Mediterranean Reporter prize for short documentaries on Europe and southern Mediterranean countries was launched Friday. Those between the ages of 18 and 35 will be eligible to participate. (ANSAmed).

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