Message by Štefan Füle on Mediterranean Academy of Diplomatic Studies (MEDAC) 'Regional Structured Dialogues for Civil Society in South Mediterranean' Conference in Malta, 06/12/2013
End production: 11/12/2013 First transmission: 11/12/2013
On 11 December 2013, Štefan Füle, Member of the EC in charge of Enlargement and European Neighbourhood Policy, recorded a message on the occasion of the Mediterranean Academy of Diplomatic Studies (MEDAC) conference which took place in Malta.
The Mediterranean Academy of Diplomatic Studies (MEDAC) is an institution of higher learning offering advanced degrees in diplomacy and conflict resolution with a focus on Mediterranean issues.
Only the original language version is authentic and it prevails in the event of its differing from the translated versions.
||Soundbite (in ENGLISH) by Štefan Füle, Member of the EC in charge of Enlargement and European Neighbourhood Policy : Good morning everybody, I am glad that I can talk to you at least in this way and I am sorry I cannot be with you as I had intended, and wanted.
Let me first of all thank the Mediterranean Academy of Diplomatic Studies for hosting the meeting, a meeting I consider to be an extremely important milestone in our efforts to ensure that civil society has its rightful place at the democratic table that we hope will be set-up soon.
Before you start your deliberations allow me to share some views and ideas with you about where Europe stands in the wake of the seismic changes in the region over the past three years.
I have said many times that Europe cannot turn away from what is happening in our closest neighbourhood. Nor can we ignore that the people there look to Europe as a source of support and inspiration for the necessary changes in their societies. That is why it is so important for us to maintain our engagement in the Neighbourhood, an engagement that must be demand driven, transparent and inclusive, embracing all sectors of society.
Since 2011 political landscapes in the region have undergone profound transformations and we have seen the emergence of a determined civil society; a brave civil society demanding that they have an input in decisions that affect their lives and livelihoods.
Today, as unfinished revolutions continue on unpredictable courses, can we say that there has been real progress in the participation of civil society in the hoped-for reforms? Some will argue that much has been achieved in recent years, while others, and I count myself among them, contest that so much still remains to be done.
We attach great importance to civil society as it empowers citizens to express their concerns, contributes to sound and democratic policy making and holds governments to account. What we are striving to achieve together is to bring once peripheral actors into the core of the dialogue on policies and programmes. Civil Society must be central to that dialogue.
We have responded to the changes in the Southern Mediterranean region by reinforcing our support for civil society in a number of ways. But we need further guidance, we need to hear from you what you need, to help us in our efforts to help civil society. The outcomes and recommendations from your discussions will offer valuable input and will be further consulted with Civil Society organisations over the next few months as we prepare for a major Civil Society Forum in Brussels next April.
To conclude - I would like to wish the Mediterranean Academy of Diplomatic Studies a very happy 25th Anniversary. Your institution has been a great and valuable friend to Europe and the southern Mediterranean over the past 25 years, and I wish you every success in all your future pursuits.