05/11/2012

Return after the Third meeting of the Mediterranean Citizens’ Assembly in Volos (Greece)

The Third meeting of the Mediterranean Citizens’ Assembly was held on October the 26th and 27th in Volos (Greece), on the theme « Changes in the Mediterranean, the dynamics of the Mediterranean Citizens’ Circles and the future of the ACM ». This meeting can be perceived as a symbol for two reasons: the first Circle was created there and the ACM wanted to show its support for the economic and social crisis which spreads across Greece. The members of the Consultative council, the members of the Citizens’ Circles and the MEDEA institute (ACM’s Secretariat), were present. The purpose of this annual meeting is to favour the exchange of ideas, experiences, initiatives and perspectives in order to structurally enforce the MCA and to root the ACM in the Mediterranean citizens’ context, as well as to reflect on the institutional future of the Assembly. Representatives of the Circles of Tunis, Tirana, Valencia, Rome, Naples, Thessaly, Istanbul, Alexandria, Algiers, Casablanca, Cyprus, Podgorica, Beirut, and Zagreb were present.

The main purpose of the first day was to establish a diagnosis of the actual situation in the Mediterranean. The meeting was opened with a long debate on the world and regional economic crisis. In an era of political powerlessness in face of the economy, it is necessary to find different answers than the ones offered by the nation state: on the regional level but also on the international level. The analysis of the dramatic Greek situation in particular, has given the opportunity to study the reaction of the Greek society facing the crisis. Moreover it gives us the chance to analyse how the citizens can be involved on the local level as to reduce inequality and the general impoverishment. Moreover the members discussed the development of alternative production models and economic exchanges in order to enable every citizen to overcome this economic difficult period. All these ideas demonstrated the willingness and necessity to reinforce the concept of citizenship based on a collective responsibility.

In the afternoon the representatives of the MCA circles took the floor to present the political, economic and cultural situation of their countries. The Syrian situation was put at the forefront of the discussions as an example of the European powerlessness, as well as the immobility of international organizations and the incapability to find a regional solution, and finally the role of the international civil society in this type of situations was discussed. Every circle has presented its own initiatives and activities: education, promotion of dialogue, solidarity actions, defence of human rights, and protection of the individual liberties, aiming that the individual returns at the heart of the issues at stake in the region.

In a more practical manner the following questions were discussed during the second day: institutionalizing the MCA, reflection on the coordination of the Circles, question of the autonomy and the financing of the circles, development of the programs spread information on the works of Circles. Moreover the participants spoke about tools to develop the media and the promotion of the ACM in general, as well as how to involve new socio-professional groups in the process of this increasing and vital interest in the condition of Mediterranean citizenship.