EuroMed leaders fail to agree over terrorism
28 November 2005, BARCELONA - The EuroMed summit failed to reach a united agreement by all countries on fighting terrorism.
28 November 2005
BARCELONA - The EuroMed summit failed to reach a united agreement by all countries on fighting terrorism.
The conference in Barcelona, which was attended by all European Union countries and representatives from many Arab countries, agreed a declaration by its president but not all sides could agree a joint statement.
During the meetings, microphones accidentally picked up officials saying Britain was about to "throw in the towel" unless something was agreed.
It was also revealed that a major stumbling block was Israeli "intransigence".
Finally, all sides signed a statement from the chairman on a code of conduct against terrorism and backed a five-year plan of action.
Tony Blair, who led the summit as president of the European Council, said the meeting at "reached the stronges condemnation of terrorism possible".
The five-year plan will deal with developing a free-trade zone in the Mediterranean.
It will also tackle illegal immigration using political, social and economic measures.
But aid groups condemned the lack of real action to deal with poverty in southern Europe.
Oxfam said: "We summit has failed to seize an historic opportunity to put the needs of poor southern Mediterranean people at the very heart of the Barcelona Process."
The abscence of a number of important Arab leaders dealt the EuroMed conference a serious blow.
Leaders from Egypt, Algeria, Syria, Lebanon and the kings of Jordan and Morocco pulled out.
Arab countries insisted on opposing occupation by foreign forces, a clear reference to the conflict between Palestinians and Israelis.
Thought, the leader of the Palestine Authority, Mahmud Abbas, attended the summit, his Israeli counterpart, Ariel Sharon, failed to attend because of domestic political reasons.
He has recently resigned from his own Likud party to form a new political group.
The Catalan capital was transformed into a high security zone during the conference.
Almost 6,000 police, Awacs spotter planes, a frigate from the Spanish Armada, restrictions on movement of traffic in some parts of the city and tighter controls on the border with France were deployed to stop any security threats.
At least 1,000 demonstrators staged a protest for various causes, from the invasion of Iraq to globalisation.
But they were prevented from getting near the leaders, who met in the Forum building, in the north of the city.
In the abscence of an agreement over terrorism, leaders were expected to turn their attention to the issue of immigration.
It was reported at the weekend that the European Union is to form a joint naval force to patrol the Mediterranean to stop illegal immigration.
But the EU is also keen to grant aid to Arab countries in return for introducing democratic measures and supporting education schemes in poorer countries.
[Copyright EFE with Expatica]
Subject: Spanish news