L’OSCE e un nuovo contesto per la cooperazione regionale nel Mediterraneo

28/05/2012, Rome

The conference “The OSCE and the new context for regional cooperation in the Mediterranean” took place on Monday May 28th 2012 in the International Conference Hall of the Italian Foreign Affairs Ministry. The Ministry, OSCE, IAI and IPALMO took part in the organization of the event. The Foreign Affairs Minister, Giulio Terzi di Sant’Agata, opened the floor with some remarks underlying the necessity of a multilateral initiative to live up to the challenges put forward by the Arab spring.

The first part of the conference focused on the emerging geo-political context, in particular on new actors and processes. The debate tackled two different axes: the political and the economic. Regarding the former, the potential confrontation between two forms of legitimacy it was underlined. One stems from the revolutions and the other from the electoral processes. Concerning the latter, even though the economic reforms of the 1990s have failed, new social and economic policies are yet to be suggested. This is to be combined with the meager foreign investment made available by the external actors due to the economic crisis.

The second session concentrated on the experience of OSCE. The general opinion was that it may be an adequate model and instrument to respond to the security and human challenges (in particular, welfare, employment and social justice) presented by the current situation. The paper presented by IPALMO highlighted the lessons that may be drawn from past OSCE experiences in other regions. Moreover, it underlined the need for a deeper partnership between OSCE and the Mediterranean countries. As a matter of fact, OSCE, with its tradition working on the basis of cooperation and consensus, may provide a valuable contribution in the following fields: election monitoring, police reform, and respect for human and minority rights.

The final session centered on new proposals for an enhanced collaboration in the Euro-Mediterranean area in cooperation with the United States, Russia, the GCC, and Turkey. IAI presented a paper assessing both the opportunities and feasibility of a new multilateral strategy in the Mediterranean. The study underlined that the new southern Mediterranean governments will most likely prefer bilateral relations with their partners. Nonetheless, unifying trends are emerging in the region, in particular the rise of Islamist parties and specific common security challenges. Against this backdrop, there is the potential for the emergence of a common security agency and of a multilateral initiative to monitor the fever-changing regional situation and put forward different proposals and points of view. However, the financial hardships afflicting western countries as well as the increasing fragmentation in the southern Mediterranean countries need to be considered when discussing future steps.

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