Magharebia (Washington DC)

15 November 2012

Egypt: Arab, EU Ministers Improve Ties

Nouakchott — Arab and European foreign ministers agreed this week to strengthen co-operation in security, human rights, development and other sectors.

Arab League and European Union foreign ministers met this week for the first time since 2008.

Twenty-two Arab and 27 EU ministers gathered Tuesday (November 13th) at the Arab League headquarters in Cairo to discuss co-operation, particularly regarding the crises in Mali, Syria, Yemen and other challenges to security and stability.

During the meeting, the Arab and European foreign ministers hailed the "socio-political changes in the Arab Spring nations" and advocated "dialogue between both parties".

"The Arab world is undergoing a major intifada led by young people who aspire to the achievement of social justice and the rule of law," Arab League Secretary-General Nabil Elaraby said.

EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said that the European Union supported "the democratic changes which have occurred in the Arab world".

In their joint "Cairo Declaration", the ministers called on the European and Arab parliaments to strengthen communication, "in order to realise the ambition of peoples of the two regions to establish the principles of freedom, justice and human rights, as well as to promote mutual respect and tolerance between people belonging to different cultural, religious and ethnic groups".

The ministers also voiced concern over Sahel instability.

Attendees welcomed the United Nations Security Council Resolutions and "supported the efforts of the African Union, ECOWAS and neighbouring countries towards a sustainable political solution that guarantees the unity and territorial integrity of Mali, and an end to terrorism and organised crime".

In a statement, the Arab and EU ministers stressed that "finding a solution to the situation in Mali, leading to a stable, legitimate, democratically elected government and a return of government control in the North was essential".

"The rise of insecurity and extremism has become one of the main concerns of the international community. This is why terrorism is being discussed at all international forum,'" political analyst Mohamed Lemine Ould Sidi told Magharebia.

Terrorism expert Sidati Ould Cheikh agreed, noting that "European leaders were taking the threat seriously".

"Across Europe, we are witnessing an increase in radicalisation, especially among young people. To a certain extent, it is being fuelled and maintained from the outside, even though the ground is fertile on an internal level. This is because immigrant communities are feeling very frustrated," Ould Cheikh added.

To address social ills that may contribute to radicalisation, the ministers agreed to launch a Joint Working Programme.

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