Ahmad Masa’deh in Barcelona: « Growth and security on both sides of the Mediterranean Union »
« I will do all I can so to ensure that this body promotes growth and security on both sides of the Mediterranean Union, » said the first General Secretary of the Union for the Mediterranean, Jordan’s Ahmad Masa’deh, during his swearing in ceremony in Barcelona, the 4th March. Spanish Foreign Minister Miguel Angel Moratinos, French Foreign minister Bernard Kouchner, Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul-Gheit, Jordanian Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh and Arab League Secretary General Amr Mussa attended the swearing in among others.
Launched at a Paris summit in July 2008, the 43-nation Union for the Mediterranean groups all 27 EU member states with countries in North Africa, the Balkans, the Arab world as well as Israel in a bid to foster cooperation in the Mediterranean region.
Masa’deh will have six assistants. A Palestinian will be responsible for environmental issues, an Israeli for higher education and research, a Turk will be responsible for transport, a Maltese for social affairs, a Greek for energy and an Italian for financing for small and medium sized businesses.
Masa’deh is now tasked with preparing a Mediterranean Union summit slated for Barcelona, which hosts the body’s headquarters, in June during the final month of Spain’s turn at the helm of the rotating presidency of the EU.
The project has already become a victim of the war in the Gaza Strip that ended on January 18 last year as Arab countries refused to sit next to Israel during meetings of the group. Many Arab nations have also come out against the participation of Israel’s hardline Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman at Mediterranean Union gatherings. « It will not be easy (to stage the summit) but I am sure that we will do it, » said Moratinos, the Spanish Foreign Minister.