Dear Minister, Lord Mayor, dear friends,
I feel privileged tonight to be with you. It is the first time I have participated in this Potsdam conference. I feel very privileged because it is a special event tonight, celebrating former Vice-Chancellor and Foreign Minister Genscher, whom I identify with a period of tireless effort and with a generation of leaders, who have for years been dedicated and devoted to the reintegration of Europe, to the renaissance and rebuilding of the culture of respect. […]
I am also very grateful to your attitude, Lord Weidenfeld, making such an effort to try to fill the gap between the Western World and Islam. And what I heard in the previous panel regarding the role and importance of the media community in this challenge was very meaningful and helpful. I am just little frustrated after hearing all that was said about anthropology, about ethics, about training, about all we have in common, that the world of responsibility which applies to all of us, apparently does not always apply to the media community. I am saying that with all my respect for this world of opinion makers, commentators, analysts. […]
I am a president of Euro-Mediterranean Anna Lindh Foundation. Anna Lindh was a Swedish Foreign Minister who was assassinated six years ago. The Anna Lindh Foundation is dedicated to the Union for the Mediterranean or a new vision, which was launched by France, which is now the vision and project of 43 countries. The 27 countries of the European Union and 16 countries on the southern side of the Mediterranean. And the roadmap is to try to forge the ideology, the legitimacy and the political and human dimension of this future Union. But the surprise was that I was elected in this position of this European and Euro-Med institution, which is the most vibrant in the landscape of Euro-Med partnership and Euro-Med region. I was elected as the Arab League candidate. I am just mentioning it because I know that it is for the first time in history that a Jewish person like myself was the Arabic candidate. It was not easy, I mean it was welcomed by all the European countries, but I have no problem to share with you the fact that when my candidacy emerged some Arabic countries said ‘what are we doing? I mean for the first time we are offered a chance to lead and preside over an international organisation and we did not find anything else than the Jewish person as a candidate?’ But it was due to the Moroccan dedication and response that I was finally elected, nothing to do with my person. I was elected 43 votes on 43 countries voting, which is also a signal, a signal that things are changing. I just want to commend this Union for the Mediterranean to you because it could be, and it is already, a major turning point for Europe and for the countries on the southern side of Mare nostrum. A turning point because, you know, we in Morocco for instance we have a long and very, very successful partnership with Europe. […]
We have to find a formula where in the periphery circle around the European Union will be another union with political means and with an ideological coherence. This was the idea of the Union for the Mediterranean. Now we know that our children will have the privilege to build a common destiny with the Europeans. And it is for the good because, as you know from discussions during the conference, you have now millions of Europeans – European citizens who are Muslims, who are coming from our countries and who are changing and making the European realities stronger. […]
We [Moroccans] are also European, we are African, we are Arab but we are also Europe. As I said Europe culturally, historically, geographically is number one at all levels in our region. So we have to give a political definition, political rule, rules of the game for the future between us. So this Union is in my view the perfect answer. The first year of this Union was a poor year because of Gaza, because of this tragic period and it was not easy, it will take time. What is important – I will conclude on this Union with this point – it is important just to keep in mind the fact that it is a perspective for the long run. It could take 50 years or 100 years, it doesn’t matter, what is important is to keep perspective, to keep the sense and to give this perspective to our future generations who are emerging; that we could have a common destiny. […]
Who could forget that it was in this region that the humanities, that modernity was really founded and was spread to the rest of the world. But it is in this region, the Mediterranean, where most of the regression has been witnessed. So, it will develop once again, I am sure. I cannot predict and tell you that this latest regression is reversible or that it will change the whole picture tomorrow morning, but there is a dynamic, we have to nurture it, we have to sustain it, we have to speak out in the same way as we did during this conference and we have to speak out very loudly […].
I want to conclude by referring to one of the most tragic incidents of bloodshed of our time, I mean this missed opportunity, this long series of missed opportunities of peace between Israel and Palestine. I am just insisting on it not because I am an Arab Jew. It is a central issue, it is an issue which will influence or determine all the others. I don’t see for instance a Union for the Mediterranean countries if there is no Palestinian state or if we have a Palestinian state where the notions of dignity, of respect, of justice, of freedom are not understood and implemented the same way that they are understood and implemented for Israel. The time of double standards and understanding of the situation in this region is also over for the best. I am calling for less philosophy in Europe. I think that there is a central responsibility and a positive responsibility for the Europeans. They are not just saying – (As I have heard many times) – ’Well, if the Americans are ok with it, it will move forward, if not, nothing is possible’. It is not true at all, and even if it were true, now we have this chance to share the same vision with Washington and we have exactly the same perspective for the future. Our responsibility is just to give a chance to this momentum because as all momentum, it could evaporate for many reasons tomorrow morning or in weeks from now if we do not really follow up immediately and I think that it is time to follow up – to wake up. Thank you.