Monday, July 14, 2008

Union for the Mediterranean!

Yesterday, a new union was born to this world. Instead of speculating about the ill fate awaiting this union, let's just be optimistic for a second and look at its chances of success. The last thing the world needs right now is another useless union.

This new baby was part of Sarkozy's election campaign. And even before seeing the light, the then proposed union was met with objections from some parts in the north and the south of the Mediterranean sea. While the only south objection came from Libya (a country whose leader is famous of objecting just for the sake of gaining more publicity), the north's objections were even more bizarre; they came mainly from Germany which is not even part of the Mediterranean culture (if we can call it that way) and asked for the inclusion of all 27 EU members!

So here we came to the modified version of the union with most of the European countries along with some Arab countries and Israel as part of it. While it is obviously no more about the Mediterranean, this regional union brings together extremely diverse cultures; the north and the south.

So what are the chances of such a union to succeed?

I think that the answer of this question depends on what kind of success we are hoping for. I would consider removing the pollution from the Mediterranean sea as a huge success. A more optimistic person may think that it will enhance trade, stop illegal immigration, or maybe even reducing the gap between the north and the south in all areas. An extremely optimistic person may think it could help to bring peace to the most troubled region in the world.

Back to reality, I don't believe there's much room for improvement except for, maybe, environmental and trade issues. I also hope that it may improve the human rights record in some countries, but that's all. The only way for the success of such a union is to have realistic goals and to work steadily to achieve them without much propaganda (less meetings and fewer cameras). Adding a list of impossible goals will just undermine its credibility.

Building bridges between the east and the west is always a welcomed step. The newly born Union for the Mediterranean may seem very small next to greater unions like the UN (both in scale and value), but at least this time all parties are equal; there's no vetoes, there's no permanent and non-permanent members and, more importantly, there's no USA.

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