FACM President, Mr. Vicent Garcés addressing at Biennale Habitat World: ” facing the Mediterranean emergency, we should adopt a position of citizens’ resistance”

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BIENNALE HABITAT 2020-2022 – third webinar “HUMAN VALUES AND HUMAN THINKING IN THE MEDITERRANEAN”

 

Thanks’ to the organizers for inviting me, thank you also for giving me the opportunity to speak Spanish. This proves the linguistic and cultural richness of the Mediterranean. The FACM is a non-governmental organization, which, as its name suggests, gathers citizens, on a personal basis. It is a foundation with legal personality established in Spain, in Valencia, which is articulated as a network of 29 citizen circles, that are present in 20 countries of the Mediterranean. It is a citizen network that has 10 years of life and has built throughout its history, an ability to give voice to citizens directly, and has built a  wide network of collaboration with all types of public institutions in the Mediterranean area.  The FACM can be defined as a network of dialogue, proposition and citizen action, shaped around universal values and principles, the values of freedom, democracy, respect for Human rights, tolerance, recognition of diversity and the will to resolve conflicts peacefully. Our foundation as a citizen organization has been developed in a context that is the cradle of three monotheist religions, of great discoveries throughout history in scientific and technique matter, in a sea that Paul Balta (unfortunately now deceased) defined as the cradle of the future (La  Mediterranée  berceau  de  l’avenir). That means the Mediterranean has a present but also a past. The Mediterranean and the peoples who live together in its northern, southern, and eastern rives share centuries of cultural and commercial relationship. These people built their history with words and swords. Sometimes with collaboration and cooperation, and sometimes with war.

We therefore have behind our present, a whole story that Professor Abulafia has characterized, a context that requires a great capacity to observe its development. At that moment, the Mediterranean is full of conflicts. If the Arab springs came offers hope for the future of people, 10 years later, these hopes have either been dashed, or there has even been an involution. We have wars on both sides, we have an EU that does not just define its policies well in relation to this reality of the Mediterranean. The Barcelona process and the Union for the Mediterranean have not yet achieved their objectives. The UpM is in development, but it also does not point to a common space where the integration of the Mediterranean countries is progressing decisively. We have foreign powers, powers from outside the Mediterranean, among which some were present in the twentieth century, ancient powers, colonial powers during the nineteenth century. But now in the 21st century, the old and the new powers are all in the Mediterranean, and setting up spaces of confrontation around interests that are not exclusively those of the peoples of the Mediterranean, but there are interests of all kinds. These powers are fighting in our sea. We have a context that is difficult, complex.

That is why we could say that the Mediterranean is living an emergency. We have an environmental emergency, arising from climate change, arising from extreme pollution of the Mediterranean Sea. A climate emergency that deepens difficulties by water and around desertification, pushing waves of immigration. A social and echo emergency, with growing inequalities between Northern and Southern countries, and even inside each country. We have an emergency exacerbated right now by the pandemic. The pandemic has come to the impromptu and is tensioning all the problems that we already had as a Mediterranean Sea, and in the face of this cluster of situations and this “Mediterranean emergency” sentence. The citizens of the Mediterranean are under double pressure, the pressure of existing conflicts, the pressure of the development of tensions and interests of all kinds that negatively affect them and the difficulty of moving forward in a calm and serene way to create the conditions of progress. As a foundation of Mediterranean citizens, we say that we practice citizen diplomacy, that means, express the willingness to move towards points of integration of the people of the Mediterranean towards a community of Mediterranean people.

But we also look at the enormous difficulties in these developments, so we say that citizenship in the face of an emergency situation like the one we are experiencing is obliged to adopt a position of resistance facing the emergence of the Mediterranean and we must practice citizen resistance. Citizen resistance around values and principles, of objectives that we have been defining, citizen resistance not to give in and accept situations such as the crises of migration flows and refugees and the conversion of the Mediterranean Sea into a cemetery. Before events like these we must put resistance, the will to resist, that is our message, now as a foundation, towards the citizens of the Mediterranean. It is clear that we have on the horizon the need, the obligation to create synergies to seek allies, to make possible alliances, and that World Habitat certainly has to be an axis, of those alliances for the future.

I conclude by saying that there are those who think that the Mediterranean or that the European Union, has its future in Africa and that it is therefore to guide all the external action of the UN UU to Africa as a future to come. It’s a vertical, the vertical UUEE–Africa, we think that this vertical is not enough that we must maintain the horizontal, the horizontal is not to fracture the Mediterranean between east and west, make it possible for the construction of bridges between east and west of the Mediterranean, to make the horizontal, then the Mediterranean is  at the crossroads of the vertical and the horizontal and at that junction where we, the Mediterraneans, are, and it is that crossing that we have to strengthen with that perspective of building a community of peoples.

 

Thank you.