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Africa, the Middle East and Europe: a game of three players

In partnership with Mena Economic Forum


The Mena Economic Forum advocates the constitution of an integration space that includes North Africa, the Gulf States and southern Europe. A triple alliance that is essential to draw the Mediterranean out of the economic and social depression into which it has fallen.



The Villa Méditerranée's amphitheatre was a full house for the opening of the third Mena Economic Forum. More than 400 high-level economic and political decision makers attempted to initiate a new collective impetus in the countries of North Africa, Europe and the Middle East. "Young Europeans and Arabs are concerned about their futures. Cape Mena is convinced of the potential for collaboration between the northern and southern shores of the Mediterranean, and the Gulf States", emphasizes François Aïssa Touazi, president of Cap Mena.

Michel Vauzelle has handed the president of the French Republic a report "intended to examine how to initiate collaboration between the Mediterranean populations", explains the president of the PACA (Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur) region. "We need to create shared tools for vocational training, for the provision of micro-loans, and the development of the social, solidarity-based economy".

The president of the Marseille Provence Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Jacques Pfister, like the president of the Arab World Institute, Jack Lang, sees Marseille as a symbolic city. "The success of Marseille as the European capital of culture illustrates the importance of culture in the economy" enthuses Jack Lang. His words are echoed by sultan Al Qassimi. The emir of Sharjah considers that "the old port of Marseille wrote a chapter in the Mediterranean's history, before succumbing to its injuries. Today the great port of Marseille can write another".


So how can the Mediterranean become a new cultural and economic hub?

Arnaud Montebourg, French minister for Economic Regeneration, believes that the Mediterranean countries "share the same problems". Photo GT
Arnaud Montebourg, French minister for Economic Regeneration, believes that the Mediterranean countries "share the same problems". Photo GT
For Morocco's minister of industry, Moulay Hafid Elalamy "the Mediterranean space is highly diverse, but Mediterranean integration nevertheless constitutes a reality. Morocco considers that only a triangular relationship between Africa, the Middle East and Europe is capable of rising to the challenge of deindustrialisation and initiating a general economic recovery".

The European commissioner Androulla Vassiliou points out that Europe found the path to integration, "which enabled lasting peace". "Programmes like Erasmus constitute the foundation of this integration. We need to draw inspiration from them in the Mediterranean. It is only by understanding our neighbour's culture that we can live in peace". Because peace is very much the issue. "We live in an unstable world" comments Cherif Rhamani, president of the World Deserts Foundation. "Populism threatens us on both sides of the Mediterranean. We must enable greater mobility".

Arnaud Montebourg, French minister for Economic Regeneration, believes that the Mediterranean countries "share the same problems, the same solutions, the same aspirations to produce, and the same youth who revolt. We must join forces to seek new markets. As globalization changes the relations between continents, we must build alliances, like the countries in the Asia Pacific zones and America".


Gérard Tur


Monday, December 9th 2013



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