28/05/2010

Postponement of the Summit of the Union for the Mediterranean: a new failure

The Union for the Mediterranean’s Summit, bringing together 43 countries, was supposed to took place in June 7, 2010, under Spanish presidency. Unfortunately, Madrid has announced that this meeting would be postponed to November in the official purpose to allow more time for indirect negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians.
However, this delay has not been an option but an obligation. Indeed, the Arab members of the UfM had threatened to boycott this summit if Israel was present. Thus, when last May 11, Avigdor Lieberman, Israeli Minister of Foreign Affairs, announced that he would be part of the Israeli delegation, France and Egypt, which co-chair the UfM, in agreement with Spain, wanted to postpone the summit, hoping negotiations ‘overhang in the coming months.
The Union for the Mediterranean has no political purpose. On the contrary, it was built based on more technical projects which would assist Member States to move forward on issues relating to energy or environment. It is upsetting to notice that even if UfM is trying to tackle problems more concrete, it faces political difficulties. When Israel is concerned, the UfM has to face the Arab unity and this is blocking any possible progress. This common Arab front against the Jewish state is led by some states which are harder and more demanding than others, including Syria. Indeed, that is why the Spanish and French Ministers of Foreign Affairs visited the Syrian leader Bashar Assad, hoping to convince him not to boycott the UfM’s summit.
The Summit’s postponement marks a new setback for the Union for the Mediterranean, which had just suffered from a defeat last April at the Euromed conference on the water. Until the Middle East’s situation is not moderated, it will be difficult for the UfM to bring forward its projects. It will always know paralysis and will never have an easy functioning. For the UfM, the process is blocked UfM which has to hope until November 2010, for indirect negotiations to have a good impact on the conflict.
The UfM has no position in the peace making process and this is one of its weaknesses. But what is most regrettable is that the EU stands back from the question of Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Thus, the UE has a card to play, a role to take in attempting to change the situation in the Middle East.

Sophia Vignard