Alessandra Tarantino/Associated Press
French President Nicolas Sarkozy speaks during a joint press conference in December with
Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero and Italian Premier Romano Prodi.

Proposed Mediterranean Alliance Faces Resistance

June 11, 2008 05:45 AM
by Josh Katz
With the launch of French President Nicolas Sarkozy’s Mediterranean Union scheduled for July 13, many nations worry that the plan will fail.

30-Second Summary

Sarkozy announced his plan for a Mediterranean partnership during his campaign for the French presidency, although he wanted the union to include only those countries with Mediterranean coastlines, including France.

The plan has since been amended to include all current European Union states, thanks mainly to initial German opposition to the exclusion. In March, it was agreed that the Mediterranean Union would consist of Mauritania; Morocco; Algeria; Tunisia; Libya; Egypt; Jordan; Palestinian Authority; Israel; Libya; Syria; Turkey; Albania; Croatia; Bosnia and Herzegovina; Montenegro and Monaco, in addition to the EU countries.

Many Arab countries are opposed to the plan because of Israel’s involvement, as expressed in the summit, currently taking place in Tripoli, of five North African states and Syria. On June 9, Algerian foreign minister Mourad Medelci said, "The Mediterranean Union must not normalize [relations] between Israel and Arab countries … The process of normalization with Israel is linked to other debates and commitments.”

Libya’s leader Muammar Gaddafi called the Mediterranean Union proposal an “insult” at the meeting, and worried that Brussels and the EU will exert too much control over the area’s policies.

Turkey has also been skeptical of the Mediterranean Union, fearing that the partnership would serve as a replacement to its sought-after membership in the EU.

The union was always intended to be a revision of the Barcelona Process. The Barcelona Process is the partnership between the EU and Mediterranean states that has been in operation since 1995. However, having had only one summit meeting, in 2005, the partnership has been lackluster.

Although Sarkozy’s new “Barcelona Process: Union for the Mediterranean," as it is called, was meant to be far more influential than its predecessor, the plan has been scaled down considerably in the past year.

Headline Link: ‘Arab countries complicate Med Union plan’

Background: The Barcelona Process

Reactions: Libya and Turkey object to union

Opinion & Analysis: A political tightrope walk for Sarkozy

Related Link: South America’s union


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