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Rabat conference tackles Mediterranean security challenges

28 janvier 2010

New approaches to improving security in the Mediterranean basin were discussed at a conference held in Rabat on Monday January 25th.

At the event, which was jointly organised by Morocco and NATO, members of Parliament, professors, students and diplomats examined how « multi-dimensional » approaches with an eye to development could strengthen regional security.

« Terrorism, drug trafficking, piracy and human trafficking are placing a real burden on security in the Mediterranean, » the secretary general of Morocco’s Foreign Ministry, Youssef Amrani, said at the event, which took place under the banner « Mediterranean Dialogue and the New Strategic Concept of NATO« .

These new dangers arise from poverty, underdevelopment, human rights violations, illiteracy and unemployment, Amrani said. « These are key elements in the global security equation, and we can’t push them into the background. »

The Moroccan official said that regional security risks could not be fully addressed unless these factors were considered. He also urged NATO to consider expanding into areas bordering the Mediterranean basin, « particularly the Sahel and the Atlantic seaboard, given their precarious situation« .

On the sidelines of the conference, NATO Deputy Secretary General Claudio Bisogniero met with Moroccan government officials charged with the bilateral co-operation. Bisogniero said told conference participants that only « mutual understanding » and « constructive political dialogue » would make it possible to achieve lasting peace and stability in the Mediterranean.

« NATO’s commitment to the Mediterranean dialogue with its partners is the result of the instability in the security context, which affects all countries today, » the NATO official said.

He urged Morocco to adopt NATO’s new « strategic alliance » plan to build a trans-Atlantic consensus to encourage a participative approach to security among NATO members. Bosigniero said the new approach should also involve other international organisations, including the EU, the UN and NGOs.

Bisogniero also praised Morocco for recognising « the importance of closer political dialogue alongside increased practical co-operation in order to find solutions to shared problems« .

Morocco-NATO co-operation extends back for many years, and includes joint operations to fight terrorism and manage international crises. Morocco sent teams to Kosovo and Bosnia-Herzegovina to participate in NATO military exercises, and also contributes to peace-keeping operations in politically fragile areas.

« This co-operation will only become more intense … much like the contribution to crisis management operations led by the Balkan Alliance, or Morocco’s unequivocal engagement in the Active Endeavour operation » which monitors terrorist activity in the Mediterranean area, Amrani said.

The Moroccan government remains steadfast in its commitment to continuing Mediterranean co-operation within the NATO framework, said the director of the Social Science Study and Research Centre, Abdellah Saaf. « We have to keep up with developments and pursue dialogue, » he added.

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