Al Hayat Newspaper interviews Secretary General of the UfM
The Secretary-General of the «Union for the Mediterranean» Youssef Amrani confirmed that the EU is keen to keep up with the processes of democratization and socio-economic development witnessed in the Mediterranean region, through regional programs and projects focusing on technology transfer, attracting investment, and securing new business opportunities in the southern Mediterranean countries.
He pointed out that the goal of these projects is to boost the local economies and the reduce unemployment and alleviate social pressures, in addition to addressing the structural imbalances between the two parts of the Mediterranean. In an interview with the «Al-Hayat Newspaper» Thursday evening, Ambassador Amrani stressed that the international financial institutions are required to submit all forms of political and financial support to the Egyptian government and fulfil their previously announced commitments, in order to assist Egypt in meeting the challenges of transition to move forward and implement the necessary reforms. He added that Egypt can be a regional model for democratic transformation associated with economic and social development.
He also highlighted that the European Union has pledged seven billion euros to neighbouring countries during the next three years, in addition to loans worth six billion euros of «European Investment Bank», and develop a financing initiative for the Arab Spring with 350 million euros to support the democratic process and economic growth, «this is a very positive step, but not consistent with the size of the large and rapid developments in the countries of the region ». He added: «There is an urgent need to encourage the heads of European funds to go to Egypt, to invest in infrastructure projects, and industries that require a lot of manpower, in addition to take care of the education, health sectors and renewable energy projects, that contribute to technology transfer and nationalize it».
He stressed on the importance of supporting small and medium enterprises, which represent an important sector in the economies of the southern Mediterranean countries. He pointed to the paramount importance of the role of youth and women in the South, and commented that a special project aim to train girls to enter the labour market in four countries, Morocco, Palestine, Jordan and Spain, will be presented to Member States soon.
Amrani highlighted that: «the Turkish model is an example of the possibility of actually living in a climate of dialogue with the Islamic world at the same time». He added that supporting democratic transformation means providing assistance to the civil society in the countries concerned, «transparency, consensus and true partnership that will reach to a funding mechanism for civil society projects that executes development projects with an economic dimension».
He stressed on the importance of investing in this momentum of change that the region is witnessing to strengthen the solidarity between the two parts of the Mediterranean basin, stressing that success for Euro – Mediterranean partnership requires radical solutions to the challenges of development, in order for the average citizen benefit directly for such cooperation.
Ambassador Amrani mentioned that water desalination project in Gaza, which was endorsed by the 43 country members of Union for the Mediterranean, will have the capacity of one hundred million cubic meters of potable water per year in Gaza, carries political social, and economic dimensions,. The Palestinian people are in dire need of safe potablewater to drink.
The estimated cost of this project is 310 million euros serve the 1.6 million Palestinians living in the Gaza Strip. Abstraction from the source only in Gaza, and groundwater that are under the coastal Gaza Strip under Israel and Egypt.