07-02-2008

The Mediterranean – A meeting place for cultures and religions

The intercultural and interreligious dialogue in the Mediterranean is an important pathway for peace,
security and for combating fundamentalisms and terrorism. This was the major topic at the centre of
discussions during the 2nd Meeting of the Standing Committee on Dialogue among Civilisations and
Human Rights of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Mediterranean. The Committee is under the
presidency of the Italian Senator Learco Saporito and the vice-presidency of the Syrian MP Mr Salah
Toma. The meeting was held at the PAM Headquarters in Malta.
It was pointed out that while technology and communications have developed, understanding between
cultures has not held the same pace and therefore there is still need for all to open up and learn more
about each other. Diversity is a distinctive characteristic of the Mediterranean, a region which has always
been a meeting place for the most diverse cultures and religions.
To this end, with National Parliaments playing a central role, it is necessary to work towards fresh
structural considerations to uphold new transnational policies. These will encourage positive acts of
international cooperation that promote social integration throughout the multiethnic and multicultural
environments throughout the Mediterranean. The dialogue between the Mediterranean countries can be
further enhanced if theories claiming that there is a clash of civilizations, or a confrontation between the
North and the South, are put aside or discussed within a more sophisticated perspective. Lack of
understanding is often a question of ignorance rather than a clash between cultures and religions.
During the 1st Meeting of the Special Task force on Gender Equality issues, representatives from
participating countries gave an account about national legislation and experiences in relation to the role of
women within their respective social, economic, cultural and political environments. It was stressed that
man and women must share the same opportunities at all levels and that gender equality can only be
achieved if women are empowered to manage autonomously their own lives. Differing ideas were aired as
to whether positive discrimination in both western and Islamic societies is actually the best solution
towards the improvement of the women’s role in society.
On a general note the Secretary General of PAM, Sergio Piazzi, also launched the idea of a Mediterranean
Day to be held annually on 21st March and a PAM prize to reward individuals, organizations and
institutions who have actively promoted, through their work and activities, the Mediterranean ideals.
Caption Pix 1: Opening session of the 2nd Meeting of the Standing Committee on Dialogue
among Civilisations and Human Rights – PAM
Caption Pix 2: PAM Standing Committee President, Italian Senator Learco Saporito (centre)
flanked on the left by vice-president Syrian MP Salah Toma, and on the right by PAM General
Secretary Sergio Piazzi.

MEDIA INFORMATION: No. 01/2008
ISSUED ON: 08 02 2008

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