Paris '07 Workshop
Algeria and the Issue of Security in the Mediterranean Region
Ambassador Youcef Yousfi
|Ambassador Youcef Yousfi (center), Algerian ambassador to the United Nations, with Egyptian Ambassador to the EU Mahmoud Karem (left) and Pakistan's Ambassador to the UN Munir Akram (right).|
"The daily acts of
violence in the Middle East and the inability of the international community
to settle the Israeli-Palestinian conflict also adversely affect the security
and stability of the Mediterranean and undermine...our dream to
make the Mediterranean an area of peace and prosperity."
Algeria considers that addressing the problem of security in the Mediterranean region requires a collective strategy based on partnership and cooperation within a Euro-Mediterranean framework, aiming at making this region a zone of permanent peace, stability, and prosperity. Algeria is gratified that most of the states and regional and international organizations already share this concept of collective security, and my country remains convinced that the concept, promoted through various forums, will enable dialogue and consultation alone to lead to rapprochement among the people on both sides of the Mediterranean and to establish regional peace and stability.
ADDRESSING MEDITERRANEAN ISSUES WITHIN A GLOBAL FRAMEWORK
My country believes that issues of concern to the Mediterranean region should be addressed within a global framework that takes into account the interests and concerns of the countries on both sides of the Mediterranean at the political, security, economic, and humanitarian levels. It considers that security in Europe, linked naturally to that of the Mediterranean, must take into account the stability of the southern Mediterranean region. Algeria also believes that integrating the Mediterranean dimension is an indispensable part of any consideration of European security and that cooperation in this area should be based on solidarity-based security.
Working with NATO, the OSCE, and the U.N.
met with interest all initiatives to strengthen security and cooperation in the
Mediterranean region, Algeria is willing to contribute to efforts aimed at
bringing lasting stability and prosperity to the region. In fact, it is
regularly and effectively involved in different dialogue frameworks in the
region, notably the Barcelona Process, the Mediterranean Forum, the 5 + 5
Dialogue, and the Mediterranean Dialogue of the North Atlantic Treaty
Organization (NATO) and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe
Within the Euro-Mediterranean framework, Algeria considers the dialogue on European security and defense policy an additional forum for discovering better ways to deal with the concerns of the region and to promote cooperation in the security sphere. Algeria also participates in the 5+5 Dialogue, both in meetings of the Ministers of Interior and those of the Ministers of Defense. The 5 + 5 Dialogue framework reflects the awareness of the member-countries of the scope of the stakes at hand regarding regional peace and security and that a comprehensive and solidarity-based approach is needed. In this context, the ministerial meeting held in Algiers on December 12, 2005, provided an opportunity to take concrete measures to cooperate on maritime, air, and land surveillance primarily related to intervening in cases of natural disasters.
Within NATO’s Mediterranean Dialogue, Algeria has been seeking, since it became a party to the initiative in March 2000, to promote a serious and constructive dialogue to reinforce peace and collective security in the Mediterranean. My country has called in particular for striking a balance between the political and operational tracks. Our status as Associate Member, which was granted to Algeria in the NATO Parliamentary Assembly during the session that was held from May 27–31, 2005, in Ljubljana, Slovenia, will allow my country to be more actively involved in the work of the assembly’s committees and sub-committees.
With regard to political dialogue, Algeria took part in meetings held by the Ministers for Foreign Affairs, in Brussels in December 2004; the Ministers of Defense, in Taormina (Sicily), in January 2006; and the Joint Chiefs of Staff, in Brussels in May 2006.
Within the context of the cooperation process with the OSCE, actions taken by Algeria have been guided by the basic principle of indivisibility for European and Mediterranean security. Political dialogue between the OSCE and the Mediterranean countries is being conducted, particularly within the framework of the Permanent Council in Vienna, through the Group of Contact with the Partner Mediterranean Countries for Cooperation (PMCC), with the aim of facilitating the exchange of information of common interest and proposing new cooperation relationships. Within the PMCC, Algeria has been advocating the development of common responses to the risks and challenges facing the countries of the region in the areas of terrorism, transnational organized crime, smuggling of and illicit trafficking in weapons, racism, xenophobia, migration, and economic disparities.
Algeria fully supports the objectives and actions envisaged by the resolution of the General Assembly of the United Nations on "strengthening of security and cooperation in the Mediterranean region," and has spared no effort to achieve the objectives called for by this text. My country also attaches particular importance to the disarmament efforts undertaken at the regional level as a step towards achieving the general and complete disarmament sought within the framework of the United Nations. In this regard, Algeria is a party to a set of international and regional legal instruments related to disarmament and the nonproliferation of weapons of mass destruction. It is also actively involved in the implementation of the United Nations Program of Action on Illicit Trade in Light Weapons in All Its Aspects. A regional conference was held in Algiers in April 2005 to support the program’s implementation by the Arab States. I would like to note here that tireless effort resulted in the launching of the aforementioned cooperation processes, as well as good will displayed by the advocates of these forums. All contributed significantly to the rapprochement and cooperation among the peoples of this region of the world, which is considered the cradle of civilization and a strategic crossroad for exchange and cooperation.
MISPERCEPTIONS REGARDING THE SOUTHERN MEDITERRANEAN
addition to its participation in cooperation frameworks, the Mediterranean
region is unique in terms of simplifying the complexity of north-south
relationships. Such relationships are uneven—the countries of the south work
hard to strike a greater balance in a sometimes hostile and often coercive
international environment. The end of the Cold War paved the way for restructuring
international relations characterized by a dynamism that resulted from the
convergence of old protagonists from both blocs. That process was accompanied,
however, by the emergence, in some quarters, of the perception that the Mediterranean was a potential source of threats to security, thus exacerbating the lack of
confidence and misunderstanding. An in-depth and serious discussion might iron
out differences among the various perceptions. Such a discussion would lead to
greater openness and could lay the foundation for consensus in a more realistic
and progressive way of the means with which to promote collective security in
The lack of a common view has led to countries of the southern Mediterranean being left behind in the political and economic reconfiguration process that has been taking place in the Euro-Mediterranean region since the fall of the Berlin Wall and the eastward expansion of Europe. Those countries may in fact end up paying the price for that expansion unless solid cooperation can strike some kind of balance.
THE MEDITERRANEAN AS AN EQUAL, UNITED SPACE
Naturally, the southern Mediterranean countries would not oppose
the integration of Europe or its expansion. They have even promoted the
emergence of a strong and united European group that can contribute to
achieving a multi-polar and more balanced world. They wish, however, to be
fully involved in the decision-making processes on the political, security, and
economic issues that engage their region and that affect their stability and
security. In this context, the countries of the southern Mediterranean region
consider the Mediterranean a common space that should constitute a privileged
venue for the political, economic, and humanitarian convergence of peoples on
both sides of the Mediterranean.
Based on that viewpoint, it might be useful to develop policies that are not designed to confirm the old fault line between the north and the south, but to create spaces of solidarity that would help reduce socio-economic disparities between the two sides. That is the challenge facing the Mediterranean countries today, which they need to confront in a positive spirit of solidarity and openness.
From that perspective, the ambitious project of creating a free-trade zone in the Euro-Mediterranean region should not be confined to the free circulation of goods and services. It should also eliminate unbalanced development between the northern and southern Mediterranean countries and be strengthened gradually by the movement of people and through a humanitarian exchange, with the advancement and welfare of people the ultimate objective of establishing the free-trade zone.
REKINDLING SOUTHERN MEDITERRANEAN HOPES
The emergence of this new context, embodied by globalization, has rekindled the hopes of the countries of the southern Mediterranean to experience growth and development as great as that produced by globalization. Those countries have in fact taken part in historic transformations and made enormous sacrifices, including painful changes and difficult social implications, in order to adapt to the new reality. However, dashed hopes have prevailed, and the heralded changes only benefited industrialized countries. Instead, rural exodus, migration, with all its human tragedies, and violence and intolerance have been exacerbated in the south.
The launch of the Barcelona Process, in November 1995, created big hopes for the people of the southern Mediterranean, but those hopes receded in recent years because of a series of misunderstandings and disappointments. The daily acts of violence in the Middle East and the inability of the international community to settle the Israeli-Palestinian conflict also adversely affect the security and stability of the Mediterranean and undermine the very spirit of the lofty principles of our partnership and our dream to make the Mediterranean an area of peace and prosperity.