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Migration, security, economic development, climate change are some of the challenges of vital interest the two shores of the Mediterranean should aspire to solve together, High Representative Federica Mogherini stressed in Malta at the 15th meeting of the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the 5+5 Western Mediterranean Dialogue.
Those are issues that were also highlighted by a group of young leaders the High Representative met during a working breakfast as part of the 5+5 Ministerial meeting. The young representatives are supported by the regional programme “Young Mediterranean Voices” co-funded by the European Union and implemented by the Anna Lindh Foundation.
"Cooperation between the two shores of the Mediterranean will only make us stronger", Mogherini reminded. "This is the European experience; European countries managed to overcome some of their historic challenges only when they came together. This is the DNA of the European engagement also in the region and more broadly," she added.
At this point of time, cooperation and partnership are more urgent and more needed than ever. Inequalities have grown between social groups, between cities and peripheries, and, most importantly, between generations, the High Representative noted.
"This is something we have in common on the two shores of the Mediterranean. Some countries slowly recover from war and need to build a solid peace economy or achieve an inclusive peaceful reconciliation. All this is exacerbating the migration phenomenon that should be tackled in a cooperative way," Mogherini said.
"Across the Mediterranean, we may speak different languages, we may have different cultures or different religions but we are close in terms of the faces we have, the attitudes we have and most importantly the interests we have converge completely," the High Representative added.
Speaking of the increase and deepening of bilateral and regional cooperation, Mogherini said there is a new interest in investing in Mediterranean cooperation. That partnership, she said, holds the answer to many of the challenges we face.
Finally, the High Representative/Vice-President reminded Ministers of Foreign Affairs about the cost of 'non-Europe', the cost of not proceeding towards further European integration: an economic cost and a security cost. As there is also, according to the High Representative/Vice-President, a cost of 'non-Maghreb': cost in having high tariffs; cost in having insufficient connections between the countries.
It is high-time today to find and open new avenues of cooperation across the Southern shore of the Mediterranean, in particular in the Maghreb, as a win-win exercise, starting on practical matters. The European Union is willing to accompany and support this process. It can also offer an inspiration. The European experience started with very concrete steps to end up with a political union that is the most advanced in the world, Mogherini concluded.