febrero 20, 2014

Speech by Geoffroy d’Aspremont (MEDEA) before the PAM at Marseille on the 21st of January 2014

Speech by Geoffroy d’Aspremont, director of the MEDEA institute, as presented at Marseille before the Parliamentary Assembly of the Mediterranean (PAM), on the 21st of January 2014.

Distinguished members of parliament and senators, distinguished members of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Mediterranean,

In name of the Mediterranean Citizens’ Assembly (MCA) and as the coordinator of its secretary, I want to thank you for the invitation. I am accompanied by Ms Françoise Macé, member of the Consultative Council of the MCA and responsible for the programs at the Charles-Léopold Mayer Foundation, the foundation that supports the MCA since the beginning.

The MCA is a citizen’s process that started in 2008 and was founded on the democratic values of freedom, peace, respect for cultural diversity and environmental responsibility. The MCA is a network of citizens who strive for an emergence of communal dialogue and action. This means we think it is through action and involvement of citizens a “destined community” of solidarity and positivity in the Mediterranean area will be formed.

The MCA is a process for the middle and long term that favors the dialogue and encounters of diverse actors in the Mediterranean society: citizens’ movements, public and private institutions, companies, associations, unions, experts, universities, research centers etc…, so they can establish relations between the ideas of citizens, let priorities and communal strategies emerge, concrete proposals that serve – among others – to orientate political actions in the Mediterranean region. In other terms, the purpose is to embody the citizens’ diplomacy.

In a first stage, we have worked on a founding text, a constitutional charter that presents the nature and principles of the MCA, as well as its values and objectives. You are invited to read and sign the text on our website: www.acimedit.net.

The coordination and the secretariat of the MCA are managed by organizations of the civil society with the support of a consultative council. Also, at present around twenty citizen circles of the MCA distributed across almost all of the countries in the Mediterranean basin, who function in an autonomous manner, organize activities or arrange meetings to discuss important themes.

We have organized until now four meetings of the MCA, bringing the members of our circles together, as well as the representatives of Euro-Mediterranean and international institutions active in the Mediterranean, who came to Valencia in 2010, to Tunis in 2011, to Volos in Greece in 2012 and Istanbul in 2013.

The Istanbul meeting in the end of last November has united more than 150 participants coming from all the Mediterranean countries to discuss the theme of ‘Dialogues of the Mediterranean, citizens and conflicts”. The often animated debates have sprouted diverse acknowledgements and propositions.

The Istanbul meeting has activated citizens to be critical of the Mediterranean reality. The participants coming from the South, East and North of the Mediterranean have underlined, among other things, the multiplicity of crises that are economic, social, political and environmental of nature. These crises that touch the whole of the basin have shown a strong disconnection between the political institutions and the civil society. We have also acknowledged a significant increase of the economic and social inequalities. Equally important are the question of violence in the transitional societies and the demand of recognizing the cultural diversity, notably linguistic and religious, which are points brought up during the debates.

The Istanbul meeting has allowed us to formulate a set of trajectories to reflect on individual and collective action for the whole of the actors in the Mediterranean. The debates have lead to multiple conclusions that support the initiatives and the hope based on guarding the values of citizenship, democracy and peace. I will mention several of the formulated proposals:

Support the democratic transitions in the Mediterranean

Promote the role of the citizens

Assure the equality of rights between men and women

Reinforce the connection between citizens and political institutions

Favor the formation of citizenship

Defend the freedom of movement for all people

Encourage a sustainable development

Combat against inequalities

In Istanbul the consultative council of the MCA has stated several declarations. The first on “the Situation of the democratic transitions in the Mediterranean region” asks to put in place the instruments that allow citizens to organize, to be able to make their voices heard in an independent way on both the local and regional level, and to be able to determine the fundamental choices that affect their future.

The second declaration acts on the freedom of movement in the Mediterranean region. It demands to put an end to the construction of walls and obstacles that restrict mobility, but also to end the discourse against migrants or “the others”. The mobility we demand for ourselves we cannot refuse “the others”. If we would refuse to make the Mediterranean a communal human space, a space of mobility and solidarity, this would immediately lead to a multiplicity of hostility and conflicts.

The third declaration acts on the economic crisis in the Mediterranean. It demands that – in light of the current situation which is due to the ever more financial nature of the economy, the inequality in the repartition of wealth and the presence of corruption – the environmental disaster and attacks on the human dignity are brought to an end. This declaration demands the support for new forms of solidarity, economic alternatives, the struggle for dignity and work, especially for the youth, and for the individual and collective rights of the people.

The fourth declaration called “Freedom, collective and individual security and peace in the Mediterranean” asks that the security, freedom and peace are treated as compatible strategic objectives in a rational and durable manner. We defend a governance in which the authorities, the public and private actors act to promote the balanced and solid relations between the North and the South in the interest of the people.

The MCA has expressed during the last encounter in Istanbul its concern for the socio-political evolution in the Mediterranean region and the difficulties of the citizenship to take its place in the midst of the foreseen democratic governance.

It is during the Istanbul meeting that the MCA and the PAM have signed a convention of collaboration of the utmost importance for the future relations between citizens and parliamentary institutions. This convention and the observer status accorded by the PAM and the MCA represent a huge step forward that will facilitate the approach and comprehension of the voting citizens, the political actors and their representatives in the chambers of parliament.  The MCA/PAM collaboration foreseen in the convention will permit an exchange of information, reciprocal consultation, communal organization of events and the possibility of collaborating on the national and regional level in the Mediterranean.

We propose to stress the existence of a permanent communication channel to facilitate consultations and the exchange of information between the MCA and the PAM. We also propose specific collaborations in the communal interest domains that will be defined more precisely later on. We hope that concrete actions will take place from the year 2014 onward.

We wish to express the desire for the MCA to reinforce the relations with the PAM and create a permanent link between the institutions that contains the legitimacy of the democratic representation and our network of Mediterranean citizens’ action to aid the creation of a Mediterranean of peace, equality, democracy, freedom and development.

We hope that the active collaboration of the MCA and the PAM regarding different initiatives will lead to “a satisfaction of the common good of all the people in the Mediterranean region”, as is the signal of the signed convention.

I thank you for your attention and will stay at your disposition to respond to your questions.

Marseille, the 21st of January 2014

Fundación Asamblea de Ciudadanos y Ciudadanas del Mediterráneo
Calle San Francisco de Borja 20 – 8 - 46007 Valencia, Spain - Phone: +34 963 219 558 - E-mail: secretariat.facm@gmail.com