As opposed to those who see the Mediterranean as a scenario of confrontation, we socialists, view it instead as a region of ample opportunity. Indeed we are convinced that there exists a great majority in the peoples of the Mediterranean who desire a future of prosperity, development, peace, freedom, respect and solidarity.
While we remain aware of the difficulties facing the region, our vision is optimistic and therefore we believe that our main challenge as democrats and socialists is to be able to put forward a compelling perspective for the future which involves a strengthening and deepening of democracy in the region so allowing current conflicts to be overcome peacefully. Democratic socialism is the only existing political option on both shores of the Mediterranean, and today it constitutes a stake in the future for the peoples from North and South who duly express the feelings of a great majority of citizens in the region.
The increase in freedoms and respect for human rights, including the abolition of the death penalty in the Mediterranean, as well as the promotion of gender equality, constitute a fundamental socialist commitment and we hope that these will be high on the agenda for countries in this area. It is also essential to promote the practices of good government and modernisation of national administrations, as well as widening citizen participation. The expansion and revitalisation of politics and democracy will help to rein in fundamentalism, ultra-nationalism, and terror. The graphic example of Lebanon, where the people of that country became the protagonists of a process of recuperation of national sovereignty, democracy and freedom, demonstrates that this change is possible.
We socialists are working tirelessly for a resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict on the basis of the existence of two states through a reactivated political process of negotiation with full respect for the agreements signed and for human rights; for peace in Iraq; for an end to violence in the Middle East as a whole; and for a definitive solution to the situation in Cyprus. Peace is imperative to building a common future in the Mediterranean, a goal shared by all of us who live in the region.
Next November will mark the X Anniversary of the Euro-Mediterranean Conference of Barcelona. It is an occasion to strengthen and give new momentum to the Barcelona Process so that it responds to the expectations that arise from today’s globalised world, which, for socialists, must bring new opportunities for all in the Mediterranean as well. This is the moment to reaffirm the commitment of the countries throughout the region to peace and security, to open new, fair forms of economic exchange and cooperation, which are more open, based on solidarity and, in order to reinforce a common culture which takes diversity as its starting point, in line with a Mediterranean identity.
It is also a question of integrating important matters into the agenda, such as obtaining a free trade zone for the year 2010, the drive for intra-regional cooperation or the search for shared answers to the new challenges, such as immigration.
The SI Mediterranean Committee declares its firm support for the Alliance of Civilisations, sponsored by the Head of the Spanish Government, José L. Rodríguez Zapatero, as an initiative of great importance in the Mediterranean region which connects with the principles and objectives on which the Barcelona Process is based.