Published on Anna Lindh Forum
Highlights of the 2nd day include: Strategic debate on Mediterranean 2020 based on findings of the Anna Lindh Foundation/Gallup Survey on Intercultural Trends, cooperation models between North and South journalists discussed in Agora workshop on media and artistic events.
Mediterranean 2010: perceptions and challenges
One of the key moments of the second day of the Anna Lindh Forum was Agora strategic debate ‘Mediterranean 2020: Society and Values’ that tackled the current perceptions and attitudes of the citizens from South and North part of the Euro-Med region and the main challenges for current and future cooperation. The debate also suggested a couple of main ideas, highlighting the role of youth as the main resource for future change and development in the Arab region despite being caught in the economic decline following political instability; and the need to change the current economic model for a sustainable future.
Main findings of the Anna Lindh Foundation/Gallup survey on Intercultural Trends across the Mediterranean were presented by Robert Manchin, director of Gallup Europe. The survey demonstrates that citizens on the both sides of the Mediterranean are increasingly interested in the politics, economics and cultures of their neighbours. Interest in the other group’s religious beliefs and practices and lifestyle and culture is more pronounced among Europeans, however, interest in economic topics was equally high on both sides of the Mediterranean.
“Insecurity currently is very present on the both sides of the Mediterranean,” Robert Manchin said presenting some of the main conclusions of the opinion pool. He also pointed out that the appreciation of the European leadership in Tunisia and Egypt is lower than that three years ago and the differences in perception of the Mediterranean among Europeans from North and South and the non-existing absolute European identity.
Besides the findings of the survey, debate also focused on youth as the main human resource and change agent. To achieve this, there are many investments to be made, especially in the education field in the Southern Mediterranean countries. Inger Andersen, vice president of the World Bank, speaking at the debate tackled the challenges of the transition countries. She underlined the necessity of educational reforms in the Southern countries that would focus on innovations and entrepreneurial spirit in this way fitting better requirements of the private sector.
While economic challenges in the Southern countries are closely related to political transition, in Europe ageing of the population and low birth rate could delay future economic growth. Farida Souiah, political scientist and expert in migration policies highlighted that migration from the Southern Mediterranean is of interest to the EU: “In twenty, thirty years EU will be depending on the labour coming from outside,” said Farida Souiah, political scientist and expert in migration policies.
A need to search for new economic model was mentioned as a response to current economic situation in the whole Euro-Med region. “People will earn less in the future, therefore they must consume less. I don’t believe in the old economic model. We cannot look at economy as an explanation of our satisfaction of the world,” said Yaraah Bar-on, President of “Oranim” college of education. At the same time there is an urgent need for cooperation across the Mediterranean: “We have many similarities. Nationalism will lead us nowhere. Every local community can keep its national identity, but it will not hold us together.”
Media Cooperation Models
Although according to the survey on Intercultural Trends, there is increase in positive interest between Southern and Northern Mediterranean citizens, the impact of incomplete and simplified media messages on the mutual perceptions and attitudes is still significant. So there is a necessity to improve cooperation and direct knowledge exchange among media professionals. Journalists should work closely together, co-production and mobility are some of the models suggested in Agora workshop on Media in the Midst of Transition by Andrea Bohm, political editor of German weekly Die Zeit.
“There has been immense lack of knowledge of part of the Western media,” said Bohm. “We can generate quite a lot of interest if we use buzz words as ‘migration from the Arab world’, ‘Islamic extremism’. This framing is creating a narrative completely besides the reality and can’t be continued that way,” she continued.
In terms of media cooperation both sides of the Mediterranean in sort of transition: while in the Southern part physical safety of journalists, financial situation and media regulation are among the main challenges, in Europe there is a general downslide of traditional media (especially printed media) and concentration of media outlets in fewer companies.
Speaking about the possible cooperation models between journalists on both sides of the Mediterranean, Bohm suggested: “We need structures instead of projects. It is an opportunity to withdraw the world beyond European borders. Cooperation projects are not about just giving training, but about creating a common Mediterranean public, for example, working on common stories and investigative journalism projects.”
Artistic Point Events
Apart from the debates on current and future challanges and cooperation of the Euro-Med region, the second day of the Forum was highlited by artistic events taking place in various spaces of the venue. Origami workshops and installation ‘Inner Revolution: Origami for Peace’ was organized by Arab Origami Center from Egypt.