PAM Parliamentarians – Mediators for cultural dialogue in the Mediterranean

Parliamentarians from PAM member states participated in the Colloquy on “Culture at the Heart of Mediterranean Relations” held in Nice, France, on 28 April 2010. The event was co-organised by the French Institute for International and Strategic relations (IRIS) and PAM.
Opening the proceedings, PAM President, Hon. Rudy Salles (France) stressed the role of the Mediterranean as a bridge between Africa, Asia and Europe, as well as the importance of preserving the cultural heritage and diversity of the Mediterranean as an essential contribution for the future of the region.
The Director of IRIS, Pascal Boniface, congratulated PAM for spearheading a re-newed pan Mediterranean dialogue, which is essential to deal with the challenges facing modern globalised cultural awareness, where despite the increased available knowledge, the many competing interests of diversity were actually a source of division. “In the absence of cultural dialogue societies would be increasingly dehumanized and both North and South needed to look self-critically at their actions if they truly intend to bring about peaceful cohabitation of peoples” added Former Algerian Minister for Higher Education, Mustapha Cherif.
For Renaud Doonedieu de Vabres, former French Minister for Cultural Affairs, peace has to be based on respect and celebration of diversity and pride of identity, in order to avoid building up a wall of hatred. “This has to be countered at the local level and furthermore the Mediterranean should be exploited as a symbol of unity”, he added.
The role of politics and religiosity in Eastern and Southern Mediterranean was raised. Mrs Sophie Bessis, General Secretary of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) commented that elites and politics alike need to urgently reflect on the role of religion. It emerged that while countries to the North should not be patronising, Southern Mediterranean countries also had to be open to change through greater transparency and good governance.
PAM Secretary General, Dr Sergio Piazzi, delved into the important strategic vision of the organisation and its unique role as a mediator in promoting dialogue throughout the region. “PAM encompasses the unique and distinct cultural milieu of the Mediterranean and member parliamentarians are well aware of their distinctive valued cultural backgrounds which find in PAM the most democratic, tolerant and transparent platform for open debates and discussions’. Dr Piazzi said.
In the closing session Prof. Esther Benbassa from the Institut de recherche sur les civilisations de l’Occident moderne (IRCOM) of the Paris-Sorbonne University (Paris IV), argued that in order to embark upon genuine dialogue, one needed to reconcile past conflicts, and overcome the indifference generated by the media towards social injustice and the widening of the poverty gap.
On 29-30 April delegates from PAM member national parliaments, under the guidance of PAM president, Hon. Rudy Salles, and at the invitation of the French Parliament, are meeting in Nice, within the framework of the 1st and 2nd Standing Committees, which deal with Political and Security related Cooperation and Economic, Social and Environmental Cooperation respectively.
Organised Crime, Terrorism, the Middle East, Environment and Climate Change, Water and Energy will be the topics on the agenda of the meeting organised as part of the annual calendar of events of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Mediterranean.

ISSUED ON: 29.04.2010

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