Friday

24th Feb 2017

Arab countries complicate Med Union plan

  • A number of countries are making waves ahead of a summit set to launch the Mediterranean Union (Photo: EUobserver)

A number of Arab countries are worried that if they join the EU's planned Mediterranean Union together with Israel, it would imply a normalisation of bilateral relations, with the Algerian foreign minister stressing that an overall vision for the project still has to be agreed.

The Union for the Mediterranean was proposed by France last year to boost ties with the EU's southern neighbours – and to include Turkey in a political structure seen as an alternative to EU membership.

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

In March, the bloc's leaders agreed on a final and softer version of the project which would include Mauritania, Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Jordan, Palestinian Authority, Israel, Syria, Lebanon, Turkey and Albania.

Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro and Monaco would also take part.

But Arab countries on Friday (6 June) asked for "clarifications on the consequences" of Israel joining the so-called Mediterranean Union, AFP reports.

"The membership of Israel was among questions we discussed and clarifications were urged on this," Algerian foreign minister Mourad Medelci said after a meeting of Mediterranean foreign ministers in Algiers.

"The Mediterranean Union must not normalise [relations] between Israel and Arab countries…The process of normalisation with Israel is linked to other debates and commitments," he added.

In particular, the Algerian foreign minister referred to an Arab peace initiative from 2002, which calls for the Jewish state to withdraw from the Palestinian territories it occupied in 1967, before talking about normalisation of ties.

Other issues

The official Mediterranean Union launch is planned to take place at a summit in Paris on 13 July, when France will hold the EU's rotating presidency.

However, a number of questions remain unsolved for some of the participants only a month before the start date.

In addition to Israel's participation, clarifications on other issues including the new union's institutions, financing and decision-making are needed as well, Mr Medelci said.

Southern Mediterranean countries fear that Brussels will dominate the decision-making process and the "overwhelming majority" of the 11 states participating in Friday's meeting in Algiers remain unconvinced by the term 'union' itself.

"Relations with the EU are unbalanced and decisions belong to those who now have money and know-how," Mr Medelci added.

For its part, Algeria has still not confirmed whether it will attend the 13 July summit.

Another country which is to still take a decision on joining the Mediterranean club is Turkey where "assessments are underway," Turkish foreign minister Ali Babacan said in May.

Recently, the country was irritated by a vote of French deputies to establish an obligatory referendum as a way to ratify Ankara's possible EU membership, calling such an approach "discriminatory."

This has made French diplomats nervous that Turkey may boycott the Mediterranean Union, according to reports in the French press.

Feature

Armenia-Azerbaijan war: Line of contact

“Frontline coffee is the best coffee in the world”, an Armenian lieutenant told EUobserver, with soldiers' morale among their strongest weapons in the war against an oil-rich foe.

Interview

The Armenia-Azerbaijan war: A refugee's story

The lynching of a woman in the Soviet Union in 1988 gives insight into why reconciliation remains so hard in the 30-year long war on Europe's eastern fringe.

News in Brief

  1. Spanish court jails former IMF chief Rato
  2. Macron proposes Nordic-style economic model for France
  3. Germany posts record high budget surplus
  4. Labour ousts Ukip in Brexit homeland
  5. Dutch lower house approves EU-Ukraine treaty
  6. WTO says Russian pork ban was illegal
  7. Belgian nuclear plant made 'significant progress' on safety
  8. Report: Commission gauging EU support for Poland sanctions

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceStudents Who Are Considered Fit Get Better Grades in School
  2. QS World MBA TourMeet with Leading International Business Schools in Paris on March 4th
  3. Malta EU 2017Economic Governance: Agreement Reached on Structural Reform Support Programme for Member States
  4. Socialists & DemocratsWomen Have to Work Ten Years Longer to Match Lifetime Earnings of Men
  5. Counter BalanceTrans-Adriatic Pipeline Is a Major Risk for Banks, Warns New Analysis
  6. Martens CentreEU and US Migration Policies Compared: Join the Debate on February 28th
  7. Swedish EnterprisesTechnology and Data Flows - Shaping the Society of Tomorrow
  8. UNICEFNearly 1.4 Million Children at Risk of Death as Famine Looms Across Africa and Yemen
  9. Malta EU 2017End of Roaming Fees: Council Reaches Agreement on Wholesale Caps
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Innovation House Opens in New York to Help Startups Access US Market
  11. Centre Maurits CoppietersMinorities and Migrations
  12. Salzburg Global SeminarThe Child in the City: Health, Parks and Play