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VIEWS FROM THE GROUND

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Kosta BARJABA

Albania is a Mediterranean country oriented towards Europe in its value system and lifestyle. At the same time, as Kosta Barjaba highlights, the economic crisis in Europe is stimulating inclinations of Albanian citizens towards the USA and Canada. The author also draws a parallel between the country’s democratisation process and the ‘Arab Spring’ movement, suggesting it will have a positive impact on Euro-Arab relations, while the Union for the Mediterranean is considered a tool to strengthen the acceptance of diversity.

Ahmad AMINIAN and Marjon GOETINCK

While all of Europe was watching as the Arab Spring broke to fruition, the expectations of how developments may impact on North-South relations are not necessarily positive. The authors explain the limited knowledge of Belgian citizens about the Mediterranean, associating their southern neighbours mainly with immigration. Despite Belgium’s diverse population and openness to cross-cultural dialogue, insufficient information on the Mediterranean other presents a challenge for civil society working against prejudice.

Anne HERHOLDT

Danish citizens have a limited knowledge about the Mediterranean, but developments during the last decade - from September 11th to the ‘Cartoon Crisis’ – have provoked interest in the MENA region. Anne Herboldt draws on the Anna Lindh/Gallup Poll to highlight the fact that Danes are also interested today in political changes in the region. The author presents several significant dialogue initiatives that have been successfully launched in recent years, against the backdrop of various episodes of intercultural conflict.

By Ayman OKEIL

Countrywide actors of the Arab Spring have now found themselves in a transitional period, and Egypt is no exception. Ayman Okeil shares the experience of the Egyptianx Network of the Anna Lindh Foundation, with its particular focus on contributing to social development through promoting dialogue and protecting cultural diversity. This will provide a basis, the author argues, for a renewed intercultural dialogue among civil societies to the South and North of the Mediterranean, touching upon equality and democratic rights.

Caroline Y. ROBERTSON-VON TROTHA, Swenja ZAREMBA and Marco IANNIELLO

Germany has a significant tradition of association life, as evidenced in the latest Anna Lindh/Gallup survey findings. The authors argue that, nowadays, many people choose to support social movements based on more flexible working structures and often originating as a response to specific issues. Against a backdrop of increasing cross-border interest but limited knowledge of the Mediterranean, the German Network of the Anna Lindh Foundation is tapping into civic engagement as a tool to broaden mutual understanding.

Ann LUTTRELL

As a result of a changing attitude towards the Catholic Church in Ireland, the family has taken over the role of the guardian of traditional values. Ann Luttrell underlines how Irish citizens consider cultural and religious diversity important, while retaining a certain reserve towards unfamiliar values. Despite the fact that the economic crisis affects the present life situation, the author highlights how people remain generally hopeful about the future, and eager to resolve through their individual action problems faced by the community.

Elisa ADORNO and Michele CAPASSO

The latest Anna Lindh/Gallup Survey confirms that while knowledge of Southern Mediterranean countries in Italy remains limited, interest in related issues of diversity and universal rights is growing. The authors reveal how the Lampedusa tragedy brought home to Italians the particular place their country occupies on the intercultural map. Through initiatives promoted by the Italian Network of the Anna Lindh Foundation, civil society organisations are focused on deepening knowledge of the other and combatting prejudices.

Andrew SPATH, Zina ISHAQ, Juan CARABALLO-RESTO

As a result of recent social developments in the Arab region, civil society activism tends to be associated to electoral processes or street riots. Meanwhile, the authors argue, CSOs in Jordan have been working intensely, and with visible results, on issues such as gender equality, youth participation in the public sphere, and contributing to economic wellbeing for the society. Economic growth in the country impacts favourably on people’s expectations for the future, and offers new opportunities for scaling-up civil society activities.

Jamal KHALIL

The Anna Lindh/Gallup Survey findings demonstrate closer bounds with Europe, which may explain in part the cautiousness with which Moroccans judge the consequences of the Arab Spring. Jamal Khalil reveals a society divided, with citizens preferring to choose individual action to collective social acts, despite shared values of respect for others. In this context, the Moroccan Network of the Anna Lindh Foundation is focused on bringing civil society leaders closer to their southern neighbours, from whom they have drifted apart.

Robert KUSEK and Joanna SANETRA-SZELIGA

Multiculturalism remains largely in Polish peoples’ minds a myth associated to the pre-Second World War era. The authors explain the emergence of a homogenous society in the second half of the 20th century, followed by a more recent opening to otherness in public life following 1989. In this perspective, the Polish Network of the Foundation is focused on addressing emerging issues of internal dialogue, and promoting a discovery of the Mediterranean other who is, for now, unknown by the majority of citizens of the country.

Maria-Angels ROQUE

Civil society organisations in Spain played an important role in the democratic transition process that took place in the 1970s, but their position diminished with the development of government institutions. The author highlights how Spaniards today have begun to realise the importance of self-organisation, even though the financial crisis has resulted in a severely underfunded third sector. In this context, the Spanish Network of the Foundation is working towards creating a far-reaching platform for shared projects.

Anis BOUFRIKHA and Meriem JERBI

In the post-2011 Tunisian context, a proliferation of civil society associations has laid the basis for the reclaiming of public space for the country’s citizens. Building on the recent Anna Lindh/Gallup polling, the authors highlight the progress made for women’s equality and an established belief among Tunisians in their individual action to pursue the common good. A high level of interest among citizens towards people on the northern Mediterranean shore also offers a renewed perspective for Tunisia in its Euro-Med relations.

Necdet SAGLAM and Tevfik Başak ERSEN

Turkish imaginary towards Mediterranean culture is strongly influenced by the country’s geographical position, amd their rich history of cultural diversity. The author draws upon the Anna Lindh/Gallup Survey findings to highlight how Euro-Med relations and exchanges have increased in recent years, also thanks to the growth of Turkey’s voluntary and community sector. Drawing on complementary polling evidence, the author also highlights the expectations of Turkish citizens for on-going improvements in the future.