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President Guigou: Call for Action at Rome conference on Mediterranean dialogues

Thu, 10/12/2015 - 23:28 -- Regina Salanova

ROME (10 December 2015) – Anna Lindh Foundation’s President Élisabeth Guigou called for an alternative narrative in the region to fight radicalisation, on 10 December, at a conference in Rome on building a positive agenda in the Mediterranean. Guigou shared a roundtable discussion on Mediterranean shared security policy with Roberta Pinotti, Italian Minister of Defense, David Lidington, UK Minister for Europe, Salaheddine Mezouar, Moroccan Minister of Foreign Affairs, and Nabil El Araby, Secretary General of the Arab League.

President Guigou said that military strategy is necessary to fight terrorism but highlighted that actions should go beyond military actions and shared the experience of the Young Arab Voices programme. Guigou stated: “At the Anna Lindh Foundation we are working with young women and men to build an alternative narrative in the Mediterraenan region”.

The Anna Lindh Foundation is preparing to launch in 2016 a region-wide programme of action with youth which will include large-scale investment in communication and advocacy training with youth, and the expansion of the flag-ship debate programme "Young Arab Voices" co-created in 2011 with the British Council. The British Foreign Office and European Commission are working with the Foundation to support the roll-out of communication training aimed at amplifying the voices of youth across the region in the mainstream media and public policy debate ("Debate to Action").

At the Rome conference, UK Minister for Europe David Lidington said: "We need to make sure that we do not leave space left to extremists to communicate. We also have to make use of online spaces". He added: "We need support to scale up the work of civil society: schools, universities and local communities".

In their speeches at the opening session to the Rome MED Conference, Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi and Jordanian King Abdullah II referenced the importance of cooperation and intercultural dialogue in the current challenges of the region. Italian Premier said: “In the face of terror, there is no alternative to the cooperation of all Mediterranean and Middle Eastern peoples, of all religious faiths and cultural backgrounds". Renzi noted: “culture can play a key role in facing extremism”.

King Abdullah II of Jordan talked about the importance of partnerships: “Within our broad Mediterranean region, partnership unleashes tremendous capabilities to shape the future we need”. Abdullah called for intercultural dialogue to keep shared values against intolerance. He said: "We speak many languages, but shared values give us a common voice: for tolerance, for peace and for mutual respect".