Tangier was the venue for a meeting on 21 and 22 March of the SI Mediterranean Committee, hosted by the Socialist Union of Popular Forces, USFP, of Morocco and chaired by Raimon Obiols of the Spanish Socialist Workers' Party, PSOE. The Committee continued its ongoing deliberations on the deepening of the Euro-Mediterranean relationship, as well as formulating its hopes and expectations for the second Euro-Mediterranean ministerial conference to be held in April in Malta. It adopted a comprehensive resolution on cooperation in the region. The continuing violence and lack of democracy in Algeria was also on the agenda and the Commitee called, in a resolution, for a number of measures to ensure the validity of the forthcoming elections. These included the lifting of restrictions on the democratic opposition, access for all democratic parties to the media, neutrality on the part of the administration, and the right of opposition representatives and international observers to monitor all aspects of the electoral process. The Socialist International will send a mission to observe the elections in Algeria. A further subject of discussion was politics and the media in the Mediterranean region as a whole and the Committee resolved to establish a working group on this important question. In the light of the present crisis in the Middle East peace process, the Committee issued a statement reaffirming support for the Oslo agreements and urging the European Union, and in particular its socialist parties, to play the fullest political role in support of peace. In another resolution, the Committee stressed the important role of women in the work for peace and democracy in the Mediterranean region and called on its member parties to foster the participation of women in the political process and in particular as candidates in forthcoming elections. Delegates also reported on their own national situations.
- lifting of all restrictions which hinder the activities of peaceful opposition and which abide by democratic rules;
- impartial access to the media as of now, in particular to television and radio, for all political forces which reject violence and terrorism;
- effective neutrality of the authorities;
- guaranteed observance of the entire electoral process by the political parties participating in the elections;
- participation in all stages of the electoral process by international observers from both governmental and non-governmental organisations.
The Mediterranean Committee expresses its support to all democratic powers which are working towards a return to civil peace in Algeria and particularly the Socialist Forces Front, FFS. It calls on all Socialist International member parties to give concrete demonstration of this support, particularly on the occasion of the forthcoming elections.
On the basis of information provided by the member parties of the Middle East Committee (SIMEC), in particular MAPAM-Meretz and Fatah, the SI Mediterranean Committee, meeting in Tangier on 21 and 22 March 1997:
- condemns the suicide-attack committed in Tel Aviv on 21 March as it condemns all individual or organised violence against civilians, on either side;
- expresses its anxiety with regard to the unprecedented crisis in the peace process, the deterioration of Israeli-Egyptian and Israeli-Jordanian relationships, the military escalation in the Lebanon and the total freeze in Israeli-Syrian negotiations. It notes that the freeze in Israeli-Palestinian negotiations is at the heart of this crisis, and considers that the provocative policy of the Israeli right, the escalation of settlement colonisation and the absence of dialogue with the Palestinian authorities with regard to implementing the signed agreements, represent the principal factors in the mounting tension in the region;
- commends the Israeli forces for peace and particularly the Israeli member parties and encourages them to continue and intensify their political struggle to make the Israeli government respect and apply the agreements signed in the spirit in which they were intended, and calls for greater international mobilisation to save the peace process which is now seriously threatened;
- aware of the complexity of the matters still to be discussed and which appear on the agenda for negotiations on the permanent status which should have already begun, the Committee stresses the importance of Israeli-Palestinian dialogue within the SI framework on the complex questions of Jerusalem, colonies and refugees. Dialogue, as proven over the last few years, is often decisive in creating conditions for real negotiation;
- finally, expresses the conviction that Europe, which in Barcelona undertook to strive for a just and durable peace in the Middle East, can and must play an increased political role in the search for peace, and stresses the particular responsibility of European socialists in these matters.
Considering the major advances in the media and communication field from the point of view of technology, content, and methods of management;
Considering the international and social discrepancies concerning the media and access to information;
Considering the basic role of the media in the information society;
Considering the need for all the inhabitants of the Mediterranean countries to benefit from equal opportunities with regard to the prodigious development, still often badly controlled and mismanaged, of information superhighways, multimedia and information technology,
the Socialist International Mediterranean Committee, meeting in Tangier on 21 and 22 March 1997:
1. Reaffirms the need to promote a fundamental reflection on socialist strategy and policy with regard to the information society, within the framework of proposals for modern socialism in the twenty-first century.
2. Insists on the importance of the struggle for a new order of information which will allow equal access to global information and knowledge.
3. Reaffirms in particular the following principles in the field of media and communication:
4. Decides to set up a working group in order to prepare a programme of work for approval at the next meeting of the Mediterranean Committee. This programme will give particular consideration to the following points:
a) Preparation of the establishment of a permanent seminar on media and politics within the Mediterranean Committee.
b) Drafting and distribution of periodic reports on communication and democracy in the Mediterranean.
c) Creation of a Euro-Mediterranean platform to defend the cultural rights of emigrant populations.
d) Strengthening the cooperation links between the Mediterranean Committee and the media.
5. Undertakes to promote the agreements of the Euromed Civil Forum of Barcelona with regard to the media and communication.
6. Undertakes to take initiatives aimed at putting an end to censorship, harassment of journalists and restrictions of any nature on the right to information in countries where this right is not guaranteed.
The Socialist International Mediterranean Committee, meeting in Tangier on 21-22 March 1997:
Notes with satisfaction the persistence and development of the Euro-Mediterranean dynamic launched by the November 1995 Barcelona conference, and pursued through follow-up action based on a number of extremely vital questions and matters concerning the definition and promotion of new Euro-Mediterranean relations, on the basis of a new, balanced and equitable approach to cooperation.
In just over one year a series of Euro-Mediterranean meetings have taken place, covering a number of important subjects including political, technological and institutional matters as well as questions relating to infrastructure and security, etc.
Underlines the relevance of the appraisal made by the 20th SI congress in New York in September 1996 with regard to the work and declaration of the Barcelona conference, noting that the latter "represents a big step forward for the aspirations of the progressive sectors in the region and gave rise to legitimate hopes that inequalities and injustices could be corrected through mechanisms of cooperation freely entered into by the different countries attending this historic meeting".
Considers that this new phase of Mediterranean co-operation is not only possible but absolutely necessary, so much so that the stability, security and prosperity of the Mediterranean area undeniably rests upon it. It goes without saying that the establishment and maintenance of conditions of peace, security and prosperity on the northern shores of the Mediterranean are more than ever linked to the promotion of economic and social development in countries to the south and east of the Mediterranean.
Notes with regret the disparities which characterise the application of the spirit and principles of the Barcelona Declaration:
Particularly shocked by several shipwrecks where boats have sunk in the Mediterranean resulting in several hundred victims, it is clear that they are victims of trafficking in people. Urgent measures are demanded to put a stop to this shameful trafficking and this should be included on the agenda at the Second Euro-Mediterranean Conference.
Thus the amount of money allocated to the countries to the south and east of the Mediterranean is in fact equivalent to 0.4 per cent of the GDP of the Mediterranean countries. For a population estimated at around 224 million inhabitants this represents, in terms of aid per inhabitant per year, three times less than the amount destined for PECO.
The urgent, indispensable need to deal with these problems cannot be ignored. Policies for restructuring and reducing the outstanding debts of the countries of the south are clearly and urgently required.
Stresses that carrying out South-North integration in the Mediterranean, with a view to creating a stable and prosperous Mediterranean area requires the constituent parties on both sides of the sea to demonstrate a strong political will and a keen sense of voluntary involvement going beyond considerations of an economic nature, and to set out actions and initiatives for the integration process in a project for the future which will make the Mediterranean area a place of peace, stability and prosperity.
In order to do this, the Mediterranean committee,
The defence and promotion of women's rights as human rights constitute an identifying feature of left-wing politics.
Some countries in the Mediterranean region are seriously affected by violence and war: the struggle for peace is a priority in present times. The women of this region, by fully exercising their rights and aided by their experience, must be able to act as agents for development and peace.
The SI Mediterranean Committee, convinced of the importance of women's role in the establishment of peace, expresses its intention to promote the participation of women in all areas of social, economic and political life.
In view of the current electoral processes, socialist and social-democratic parties around the Mediterranean must encourage and support the candidature of women and guarantee their presence in all political decision-making bodies.
President of the Committee
Socialist Forces Front, FFS
Abdesselam Ali Rachedi
Ahmed Ait Cherif
Socialist Party, PS
Socialist Party, PS
Social Democratic Party of Germany, SPD
Panhellenic Socialist Movement, PASOK
Democratic Party of the Left, PDS
Italian Socialists, SI
Malta Labour Party
Socialist Union of Popular Forces, USFP
Mohamed El Yazghi
Mohamed Ait Kaddour
Hamid Ben Elcadi
TERRITORIES UNDER PALESTINIAN AUTHORITY
Socialist Party, PS
Spanish Socialist Workers' Party, PSOE
José Manuel Perez Tornero
José Luis Ibañez
Democratic Constitutional Assembly, RCD
Saïd Naceur Ramadhane
Republican People's Party, CHP
Office of SI President
Group of the Party of European Socialists of the European Parliament
Nadia Van Hamme
International Union of Socialist Youth, IUSY
Party of European Socialists, PES
Socialist International Women, SIW
The Royal Institute of International Affairs (Chatham House), Great Britain
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