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MED FORUM 2016 launch event in Valletta highlights Malta's strategic role as a connection point in the Mediterranean

Valletta, 14 September 2016 - A regional launch took place today for MED FORUM 2016, the largest civil society gathering and most influential process of its kind for intercultural dialogue in the Euro-Mediterranean space. The theme of the launch event was "legacy" with a focus on how to further leverage next month's MED FORUM to support Malta's strategic role as a connection point between Europe and the Southern Mediterranean, and Valletta's role as European Cultural capital and a "Mediterranean Capital for Dialogue".

Hosted at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Valletta, the launch was co-led by H.E. Dr George Vella, Maltese Minister of Foreign Affairs, and Ambassador Hatem Atallah, Executive Director of the Anna Lindh Foundation and its International Secretariat in Alexandria, Egypt.

Maltese Minister for Foreign Affairs George W. Vella said that this Forum will launch "a new, far-reaching process of intercultural dialogue that will help in bringing together people from around the Mediterranean, and will be in a position not only to contribute during Malta’s Presidency of the Council of the European Union, but also way beyond that into 2018, when Valletta will be the European City of Culture."

In his speech, Minister Vella also highlighted the importance of the Anna Lindh Foundation's work in the region: "In the face of unprecedented cultural aggression and level of violence in the region, Malta views the role of the Anna Lindh Foundation as a beacon of light across the Mediterranean. The Foundation works to restore trust in dialogue and bridge the gaps in mutual perceptions, as well as promoting diversity and coexistence."

At the presentatiion, Ambassador Atallah said: "We believe that next month’s MED FORUM will be the milestone to constitute the largest, most significant coalition of actors working for intercultural action across the Mediterranean. It will also be the milestone to define our strategic priorities and flag-ship actions to support the Foundation in assuming its role as reference point of and guardian for intercultural dialogue in the Euro-Med space."

The event unveiled for the first time the MED FORUM programme, including its defined priority themes as well as high-profile international delegates and partners, which is the result of a unique 18-month participatory process involving the region's main institutions, leading intercultural experts, and the Anna Lindh Foundation's network of more than 4500 NGOs and civil society across 42 countries of Europe, North Africa and the Middle East.

Taking place next month from 23rd to 25th October at the Mediterranean Conference Centre (MCC), MED FORUM 2016 has been timed to prepare the ground for Malta's first EU Presidency and reinforce the centrality of Mediterranean dialogue in facing global challenges of International Security and International Migration. The FORUM is set to be a catalyst for collaboration, creating a far-reaching coalition of regional civil society and institutional players for dialogue with the confirmed presence of secretary-generals and high-officials from the United Nations, EU, Arab League, Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), Union for the Mediterranean (UfM), World Leadership Alliance-Club de Madrid, Friends of Europe, UNESCO, and Ministries of Foreign Affairs of the 42 Member States of the UfM.

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