03 July 2007 - NATO PARLIAMENTARIANS DISCUSS SECURITY IN THE MIDDLE EAST
Some 40 members of parliament from NATO and Mediterranean partner countries met in Naples from 1-2 July to discuss security issues in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. Legislators from Algeria, Israel and Jordan participated in the meeting, organized in co-operation with the Italian parliament.
On the first day, discussions focused on the situation in Iran and Lebanon. Professor Ali Reza Sheikholeslami of the American University of Sharjah, UAE, gave a detailed account of the internal political situation in the Islamic Republic of Iran, while Professor Maurizio Martellini of Italian think-tank Landau Network-Centro Volta analysed the question of Tehran’s nuclear programme. The crisis in Lebanon and the international efforts to deal with it were debated with contributions from Giovanni Lorenzo Forcieri, Italy’s Deputy Minister of Defence, Elisabeth Picard, Research Director at France’s CNRS, and Issa Goraieb, columnist for the Beirut daily L’Orient-Le Jour.
Sessions on the second day addressed the role and development of civil society and media in the MENA region, as well as recent developments in the NATO Mediterranean Dialogue (MD) and Istanbul Cooperation Initiative (ICI). Thomas McGrath, responsible for Media, Communication and Information for the EuroMed programme at the European Commission, described the EU strategy to promote freedom of expression and media independence throughout the region. Ambassador Mahmoud Kassem of the Ibn Khaldoun Center in Cairo, Egypt, described efforts to develop civil society in the MENA region as a whole, while the specific circumstances of Palestinian civil society were outlined by Ms Lilian Feidy, Secretary General of mIFTAH ( the Palestinian Initiative for the Promotion of Global Dialogue and Democracy).
In the final session, Alberto Bin of NATO’s Political Affairs and Security Policy Division informed NATO PA members of the recent NATO Training Cooperation Initiative towards MD and ICI countries. Rear Admiral Tony Rix, Chief of Staff, CC Mar/AFSOUTH, briefed participants about recent political and military developments with regard to Operation Active Endeavour in the Mediterranean.
[NOTE: Presentations from this seminar are available on this website]