“The Mediterranean, a peaceful and stable region? Obviously, the answer is no. We are as yet far from being a democratic Mediterranean region, indicated the heads of State and those of the European Union in Barcelona 1995.
Since then, Central European countries, compared to Mediterranean countries, have progressed a great deal. Mostly, it is due to the desire of the countries involved and their people to join the European Union as soon as possible, which had quickly offered them technical assistance. As for the Mediterranean regimes except for Cyprus, Malta and Turkey, the lack of political will hinders profound changes in their countries.
Furthermore, the agreements in 1995 included a list of options, drafted by diplomats and accepted by the heads of State, who did not think of the means that would permit them to achieve the main objective: to establish a peaceful, safe and prosperous region. However, the political and economic developments in the Mediterranean region, over the past decade, have been remarkable. For example, Mediterranean citizens and governments realize that it is indispensable to implement profound political reforms. Similarly, fertility rates have dropped impressively, which would obviously reduce, in the long run, unemployment rates. On the other hand, the region was able to avoid military confrontations, except for the Israeli-Palestinian and Algerian-Moroccan conflicts regarding Western Sahara. But still the countries in question increased their military expenditures and budget. In other words, the results were not bad, but when comparing Mediterranean countries to other nations from outside the region, the later have been shown to have taken more important steps forward in various areas.
Were the EU and Barcelona agreements behind these changes? It is undeniable that the Barcelona agreements have created an environment of discussions and negotiations among the different parties, for they have facilitated the liberalization of Arab economies. But the real authors of such developments are mainly the citizens, and then some senior Mediterranean leaders who are eager to build a true democracy based upon respect for Human Rights and a free economic system. This could be the beginning of a development stage in the history of Mediterranean countries, which should be established by their European partners. And such reforms are the only ones that would ensure a deeply desired security.

As Safir (Lebanon)

المتوسط، منطقة سلام واستقرار أخيراً؟.”, by Abrahard Rain, As Safir, November 24, 2005.