Speech by Mr Barah Mikail
Speech by Mr Barah Mikail, Member of the Mediterranean Citizen’s Assembly (MCA) Advisory Board to the European Parliament delegation for relations with the Maghreb countries
Brussels, 20 March 2014
Dear Mr President, Ladies and Gentlemen, Members of Parliament,
The Mediterranean Citizen’s Assembly, I will mention later by its acronym MCA, is an initiative originally created in the minds of two of its founders, Vicent Garcés and Françoise Macé, in 2008. Considering that the Mediterranean area was intended to give the voice to a variety of citizens, they can successfully ensure the support of the Léopold Mayer Foundation, humanist Swiss foundation based in Paris. Thus, since 2010, the MCA has held an annual meeting bringing together nearly 200 people from the Mediterranean. Valencia (2010), Tunis (2011), Volos (2012) and Istanbul (2013) were able to host one after the other a citizen forum through which people from various backgrounds and all countries of the Mediterranean in an exercise of citizen diplomacy; Participants were able to discuss their views and were able to put in perspective their visions for the future of their common space. Needless to say, the “Arab Spring” proved the relevance of this project based on the belief in the existence of a Mediterranean citizenship. MCA was born before the popular bursts in the Arab world, and the decisive phase currently facing the Middle East underscores the relevance to the philosophy of this project.
The MCA, which operates through a coordination formed by the CERAI (Valencia, Spain), the University of Tirana (Albania) and the International European Movement (Brussels) and a secretariat based at the MEDEA Institute (Brussels), finds meaning only across the Mediterranean citizenship. Thus, through the MCA, thirty citizens circles have emerged in several Mediterranean cities. These circles allow Mediterranean people to gather, to freely discuss their vision of the Mediterranean, make proposals and organize various activities. Their conclusions and concrete projects are completed and are notified to the Coordination. Then the Coordination decides which projects should be followed up by providing concrete support arrangements. Thus, so far, we have supported projects as varied as the Mostra Viva, a Mediterranean festival organized by the members of the Circle of Valencia, and the Riscatto Mediterraneo, a bookish event and debates organized by the members of the Circle of Rome.
The MCA also enjoys the recognition of Mediterranean institutions involved in the support to civil society. The MCA has signed Framework Conventions with Mediterranean Parliamentary Assembly and Emuni, the Euro-Mediterranean University. The MCA developed also close relationship with the Anna Lindh Foundation or IEMED e.g.
The MCA is proud to have contributed to the debate on the Mediterranean citizenship during this particular time of conflict threatening sometimes the stability of the Mediterranean area. Thus, from 2010 until its fourth meeting held in Istanbul in November 2013, the MCA had a great set of views on the contribution of citizens in the construction of a regional space particularly based on peace and development. You can consult the website of the MCA, www.acimedit.net.
In parallel, the MCA also regularly expresses its position on crisis and decisive conflicts in the region. These are not limited only to war zones in the traditional sense. The economic and financial crisis, its impact on the Mediterranean peoples, or the crisis of political leadership that is sometimes seen in both the Arab world and in some countries of the European Union, are also subjects that are part of concerns the members of the MCA.
The MCA wants to be an effective tool for Mediterranean citizens’ claims. It ensures it through the expression of all viewpoints prevailing in the Mediterranean area. Indeed, the MCA wants to hold its non-partisan vocation either on ideological, religious or political views. Moreover, the MCA Advisory Board, kind of “think tank” of the MCA, is an excellent reflect of this distance the MCA is proud of. The thirty members constituting the Board come from all ideological and different professional backgrounds. The Board is required to constantly evolve, so that its members represent diversity in terms of national affiliation as well as in terms of the direction of their thinking or their age category. Indeed, it must be added that the MCA is convinced that a healthy Mediterranean development can only be achieved with the contribution of youth, true vector to define the future of the region.
Finally, it is worth noting that the MCA, in its commitment to dealing with the most telling and revealing challenges for the Mediterranean area, will hold its next citizen meeting in November 2014 in Marseille on the theme of citizenship and integration in the Mediterranean. The 200 participating Mediterranean citizens, with various Euro-Mediterranean institutions, will deal with the most critical challenges and issues. In fact, their reflection, as Mediterranean citizens, will also aim to challenge the policymakers to meet the needs and concerns of citizens.
For the MCA, the Mediterranean citizenship is a key issue that deserves the attention and participation of everyone. In that sense, the MCA contributes to the construction of a building those bases are still far from being established. Moreover, the MCA wants to challenge you, ladies and gentlemen as members but also as citizens committed as you are too, so your potential, your beliefs, your actions and your influence have their role in supporting Mediterranean civic developments. Times are indeed crucial for the preservation of a social well-being in the Mediterranean that can be a model we will all be proud of. All efforts are needed and welcome to this project. Indeed, we know that every citizen awareness and strong sense of belonging to an area rich in its diversity is a fact that it would be unfortunate to derogate. Mediterranean citizenship should be based on the contribution of all of you, of us, of everyone, at every moment, in any place whatsoever.