STATEMENT BY THE ADVISORY COUNCIL OF THE ACM FOUNDATION

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Valencia, 20.09.2018

The Mediterranean region is in a critical geopolitical situation: old and new conflicts, and tensions accumulated, economic and social inequalities persist and as a result, migration and humanitarian dramas have not stopped growing. However, geopolitical and geostrategic challenges go beyond the Mediterranean space. The region is experiencing the influence of Russia, the United States and more and more of China. The North – South division is accentuated but nevertheless, in the countries that border the Mediterranean, the ideal of the foundation of an integrated regional space remains.

The objective of the FACM is to promote a common citizenship on a Mediterranean scale, to organize a movement of Mediterranean citizens to contribute to the change of economic and political relations between the countries of the North, South and East, and within each country, and to promote democracy and respect for human rights. The long-term perspective is to contribute to the construction of a community of Mediterranean peoples for prosperity in the region. To this end, the ACM has established a Mediterranean citizen space, based on solid values and principles, with recognition of the rights enshrined by the United Nations in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948.

The elections held in various European countries in recent years have led to an increase in the number of populist parties, including the extreme right, some of which are now in power. Taking advantage of the growing distrust of some citizens to traditional political parties and exacerbating their concerns, particularly with regard to immigration and refugees, these parties are questioning in their programs and speeches, many of our rights and institutions. They pose a challenge to our social cohesion and our democratic model, and affect European policy in the Mediterranean. The Advisory Council calls the European political representatives to consider this risk. It is our responsibility to remember that democracy and human rights are never earned definitively and require constant vigilance. It is your duty to promote our democracies with bold and inclusive political projects.

After the enthusiasm raised by the wave of Arab uprisings, authoritarianism is reemerged. The FACM Advisory Council expresses its concern about the critical situation of freedoms and human rights in the south and east of the Mediterranean where, with some exceptions, the rule of law is frequently violated, the freedom of media is gagged and the police state is back.

There are more than 65 million refugees in the world today. The FACM reiterates the need to enforce international laws related to human rights and not only make this a moral issue. We ask governments to remember their commitments in this regard and to apply these human rights equally to all categories of migrants. We express our determination to prioritize the rescue of human lives in the Mediterranean, an action that should be considered as a global responsibility. We ask that aid to migrants is not considered a crime and, for this reason, we propose that the national legislations should be modified accordingly.

In a context of global repression, the Palestinian national question that has been a catalyst for regional political development, has lost its centrality. This opens up possibilities for the State of Israel and the United States to take the initiative. The acceleration of colonization, the marginalization of the PLO and the Palestinian Authority and recently, the provocation that the transfer of the United States Embassy to Jerusalem has meant, are sources of tensions that can be explosive. The FACM condemns the reduction of aid to the refugee camps in Palestine, a decision of the United States that seriously compromises the survival of six million people who depend on this support for medical care and education.

We have met at a time when bombings are intensifying in northern Syria. The city of Idlib, the last bastion of the Syrian opposition, has become the new target of Russian air strike and the Iranian and Syrian ground forces subordinated to the power of Damascus. A small town of 250 thousand inhabitants has been home to more than 3 million civilians for many years, most of them displaced. Hospitals and clinics were the first targets that were destroyed and currently most of them are out of service. Under the pretext of evicting ten thousand members of radical groups, millions of civilians are threatened with death.

The city and its region are paying a heavy price for their firm commitment to the peaceful demonstrations that announced the beginning of the Syrian revolution before it became a massacre. The FACM alerts the peoples of the Mediterranean and official institutions about the humanitarian catastrophe that is approaching and that, like its predecessors, runs the risk of going unnoticed by the international community. Tens of thousands of civilians will soon be back on the exodus routes in the Mediterranean area.

The FACM denounces, in accordance with the recommendations of the international authorities, the sale of weapons to countries involved in armed conflicts, as are the operatives of the coalition in the Arabo-Persian Gulf. Governments must not engage with actors that use their weapons against civilian objectives.

These different observations are distressing and lead to pessimism. In this framework, youth, characterized by its openness to the world and its propensity for generosity, is an asset to identify beneficial solutions.

We remember the message by Edgard Morin, member of the Advisory Council in his opening speech at the ACM meeting in Tunisia in 2011:

“The Mediterranean is a world of solidarity, unique in the world, with strong values of fraternity and honor that are crucial today, and in this sense, the ACM is the cornerstone of this wonderful building and project for the future.”