|1st Preparatory Meeting "The EMP Summit Conclusions in the Light of the Recent Events"|
14 February 2006 - 15 February 2006
On 14 and 15 February, EuroMeSCo held a workshop in Brussels on the issue of “The Future of the Democratic Process in Palestine” and “The Barcelona Summit: A First Assessment”.
The first debate was introduced by Muriel Asseburg (SWP, Berlin) who analysed the political situation in Palestine in the aftermath of the recent parliamentary elections.
In her presentation, Asseburg outlined three scenarios that could guide and/or accompany Hamas’current efforts to form a government. According to her, the first scenario implies the formation of a government of national unity involving both Hamas and Fatah; the second scenario foresees the creation of a technocratic government that includes nationally and internationally acknowledged Palestinian experts and personalities whereas the third scenario is based on the assumption that Hamas will govern by itself. In contrast, a fourth possibility is based on chaos and anarchy as a result of the main actors’ inability to form a government.
In the subsequent discussion, most European participants shared the view that Hamas and its political arm “Change and Reform” need to be given time to adjust to the new political realities and that too strong a pressure exerted by the EU and the US might be detrimental in the long run. On the other hand, participants from Arab Southern Mediterranean countries and Israel shared the view, albeit for different reasons, that the landslide victory by Hamas might send a dangerous signal across the Arab world and encourage other (radical) Islamic movements and actors in the Arab world to seek the democratic “entryist” path without abandoning their anti-semitic rhetoric or even violent approaches.
Azzam Mahjoub (University of Tunis) introduced the second topic and highlighted the various shortcomings of the Barcelona Summit that was held in Barcelona on 27./28. November 2005, the code of conduct on terrorism and the five-year work programme.
With regards to the latter, participants pointed to the fact that its mere existence must be seen as a success as in sectors such as socio-economic development and education it outlines for the first time ever in the framework of Euro-Mediterranean relations verifiable benchmarking criteria. Yet, most participants struck a more critical chord with respect to the linkage between the EMP and the ENP.
Although in Barcelona the 35 partners agreed on the creation of a so-called governance facility, rewarding southern Mediterranean partners in exchange for successful political reforms, it was argued that the Summit did not shed any light on how this new tool will relate to the European Neighbourhood Policy Instrument and the principle of negative conditionality as enshrined in the Euro-Mediterranean association agreements. There was widespread agreement that EuroMeSCo is well-placed to draw attention to these matters and put forward concrete policy recommendations destined to improve existing flaws in the EU’s policies vis-à-vis its Southern Mediterranean neighbours.