The wave of popular protest that led to the downfall of the regimes of Tunisia and Egypt has spread across much of the Arab and Islamic world and generated demands for democracy, freedom, fundamental rights and greater social justice. From Iran to Yemen, from Algeria to Bahrain, thousands continue to demonstrate and many have paid a high and bloody price. In Libya, the protests against Colonel Gaddafi’s government have been repressed with unprecedented violence that has caused the deaths of hundreds of civilians.
The Mediterranean is a region of vital importance for European security and the European Union must therefore equip itself with new tools and raise its level of engagement there. It needs to give a fresh impetus to the Union for the Mediterranean and launch an extraordinary plan to further democratic transition, economic development and social cohesion.
By virtue of its geographical position and its historical, cultural and economic ties, Italy has a paramount interest in the southern Mediterranean.
The pacification of the Mediterranean region demands a solution to be found to the Arab-Israeli conflict which, in the current context, runs the risk of aggravation if fundamentalist movements prevail. The declaration by the Egypt military authorities that they intend to abide by the international agreements signed by Egypt – in particular the 1978 peace treaty with Israel that has contributed to the stability of the region – is an encouraging step in this direction.
The Parliamentary Assembly should therefore reflect on ways it might help support the transition to democracy in the region and monitor ongoing developments with a view to affirming democratic and pluralist systems that guarantee respect for the law and human rights in a context of international security.