The Friedrich Naumann Foundation has organized the EURO-MENA-SHOW, an event that aims to boost relations and cooperation between the Mediterranean countries of Southern Europe, North Africa and the Middle East. "Re-Start Mediterranean relations by creating Euro-Mediterranean ties that are fulfilled", this is the main motto of the 2nd edition of the Euro-Mena conference.
The event, which will be held on June 29, will have the collaboration of Casa Árabe, the Barcelona Center for International Affairs (CIDOB) and the Elcano Royal Institute. These institutions will serve to publicize the project by highlighting the value of Mediterranean dialogue.
As a novel aspect, it should be noted that this conference, thanks to the vaccination campaign, will take place in a semi-presential manner. However, the coronavirus will still be very present due to the strict security measures that have to be complied with, such as respecting the safety distance and capacity limits.
The event kicks off with a presentation of the topics on the agenda and the speakers who will be participating. This introduction will be led by the Director of Casa Árabe, Pedro Martínez-Avial; the Director of the Friedrich Naumann Foundation in Madrid, David Henneberger; the Director of the foundation in the MENA region (Middle East and North Africa), Dirk Kunze; and the foundation's Regional Director in Europe, Thomas Ilka. Valentín García and Esther Molina will also introduce the topics and speakers.
The first topic to be addressed will be the economy and current issues through the conference "Re-Start for Economic Relations in the Mediterranean". Karl-Heinz Paqué, Chairman of FNF, and Jihad Azour, former Lebanese Minister of Finance and Director of the Middle East and Central Asia Department at the International Monetary Fund, will participate in this conference. Cristina García Fernández, Economist and Director of the Master EU & Mediterranean at the Complutense University of Madrid, will also speak. Journalist Lorena Carrillo Martin will moderate the first conference of the event.
The next topic, “A moment to reflect: Creating Euro-Mediterranean bonds that deliver", will be addressed by relevant think tanks from Spain such as the Elcano Royal Institute or CIDOB (The Barcelona Center for International Affairs). Participants include Charles Powell (Elcano Royal Institute), Pol Morillas (CIDOB), David Henneberger (FNF Madrid), Eduard Soler i Lecha (CIDOB) and Haizam Amirah-Fernandez (Elcano Royal Institute).
Then, two essential issues in Euro-Mediterranean relations will be discussed: culture and migration. It is necessary to raise awareness and point out the importance of a close partnership between the countries of the Mediterranean. In addition, as is the case in Europe, it is necessary to underline the common history and cultural heritage.
On the other hand, migration flows are another major challenge in the area. Among the Mediterranean countries, there must be strong agreements on this issue to fight against mafias and protect the most vulnerable people. According to a 2020 UN report, 20.000 migrants have died in the Mediterranean since 2014, a figure provided by the International Organization for Migration (IOM).
In the conference "Rediscovering the Mediterranean: Virtual Guided Tour in Madrid", the Journalist and Expert on the Arab world, Rafael Martinez, will speak.
Afterwards, it will be the turn of the women of the region. Protests in the region led by women, as in Lebanon and Tunisia, will be discussed. The activist for women's rights in Iran, Masih Alinejad, and the independent Lebanese journalist Luna Safwan will also participate. The first, a blogger, launched the campaign "My Stealthy Freedom", with the aim of allowing Iranian women to decide freely whether they want to wear hijab or not.
Migration will again be raised alongside human rights at the conference "Rethinking Art and Literature: A Diaspora Approach". The Spanish-Lebanese artist and film director Laila Hotait and the Moroccan musician Houssam Hammoumi will address this issue. Within this challenge, the situation of women in the Sahel region, an area that is experiencing a worrying increase in jihadism, will also be discussed.
Due to the special situation of the region, climate change will be one of the challenges and main topics of the event. As several reports by the Mediterranean Expert on Climate and Environmental Change point out, the Mediterranean basin is one of the areas most affected by global warming. At the debate "The Climate Revolution? Opportunities for Green Transitions in the Mediterranean", participants will discuss measures to mitigate the effects of climate change. Iskander Ben Mustapha, Lukas Köhler and Aziza Moneer will take part in this debate. Related to sustainability, a debate will also be created around "sustainable and affordable" in social policies and urban development.
The event will conclude with two key issues: the economy after the coronavirus pandemic and EURO-MENA cooperation. The first topic will be approached from a feminist perspective: " Female Forward: Women Driving Economic Recovery After COVID-19 and Beyond". This presentation will feature Eva Diaz, CEO of Appogeo Digital Consulting; Magatte Wade, Director of SkinIsSkin.com and Atlas Network's Center for African Prosperity; and Sana Afouaiz, Founder and Director of the Womenpreneur Initiative. Afouaiz is also the author of the book "The Invisible Women of the Middle East".
As part of the pandemic recovery, a discussion will be held on" Boosting Resilience: Diversifying Supply Chains in the Mediterranean". COVID-19 is one of the main current challenges for the countries in the region. However, this crisis also creates opportunities such as the possibility of creating stronger ties through aid to mitigate the effects of this pandemic. North African countries such as Tunisia and Morocco have received substantial financial assistance from the EU to deal with the pandemic and mitigate the socio-economic impact. The same applies to other Mediterranean nations, such as Jordan and Lebanon, where funds will be sent to assist governments in managing the health crisis. It is worth recalling the deep economic crisis in Lebanon, which is hosting 865.000 Syrian refugees according to the UN. Jordan has also received a large number of Syrian people fleeing the war, in addition to the 2.200.000 Palestinian refugees already living in the country according to UNRWA. European funds to these two states are mainly intended to help them with refugees during the health crisis.
In closing, the main objective of the event will be addressed: "EURO-MENA Peacebuilding Cooperation". Strong cooperation between the Mediterranean countries would not only affect the inhabitants of the region, but could also boost stability and security in nearby regions such as the Sahel or non-Mediterranean Middle Eastern countries.