Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Barcelona Process Stumbles?

"Muslim Nations Skip Meeting With Europe"
New York Times
November 27, 2005

This week, representatives of the European Union and several Mediterranean countries gathered for a two-day summit to discuss immigration, trade, and terrorism. The meetings were part of a ten-year initiative between the two regions, sometimes called the Barcelona Process, to build political and economic ties. The E.U. hoped further meetings would demonstrate their commitment to Muslim nations in the southern Mediterranean and neighboring regions.

However, several leaders from North African and Middle Eastern countries, who had previously indicated that they would attend this week's conference, failed to show. The Presidents of Egypt and Algeria and the King of Morocco were among the missing. "Their absence weakens European claims that their approach to the Muslim world - based on economic development, dialogue, strengthening the rule of law, and other forms of soft power - has greater credibility with the region's leaders than what they see as the Bush administration's more aggressive approach."

Exactly what these meetings accomplished remains unclear. Additionally, the absent leaders offered numerous reasons for their inability to attend, including poor health and domestic crisis. Their lack of participation may be no more than bad timing or, as the article speculates, an indication that the Barcelona Process has little to offer.

For more information on the Barcelona Process, visit http://europa.eu.int/comm/external_relations/euromed/.

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