A Joint Home for the Mediterranean

It gives me great pleasure to declare open the central headquarters of the Accademia del Mediterraneo e Maison de la Méditerraneé, fulfilling an undertaking given last October by the Regione Campania to see this organism become a reality in Napoli.

Thanks to the intense work of the Fondazione Laboratorio Mediterraneo - which since 1994 has identified dialogue between cultures and civilizations as the key to promoting peace and progress in the Mediterranean basin - the Regione Campania has recognised in the Accademia del Mediterraneo e Maison de la Méditerranée a structure for promoting concrete initiatives - at the level of States, Regions and Civil Society - fostering cultural, political and social dialogue between the various cultures which exist side by side in what is indeed a crucial area of the world.

Now this structure is endowed with its own venue, where it will be possible to work on activities fostering contacts between the various cultures and creating opportunities for dialogue in the respect for differences. It will be inspired by the culture of the polis and ensure relationships, encounters and a fair hearing for others.

Such encounters and relationships are all the more important in the current situation, characterised by deep-seated uncertainties and an increasing sense of fear among European citizens. These feelings have arisen as part of the process of globalisation, which brings with it risks and also extraordinary opportunities. It is a mistake to focus exclusively on only one of these features of the process.

Globalisation needs to be governed, with rules and criteria. Indeed this new governance should extend to all the processes of internazionalisarion, able to broaden the fundamental liberties of individuals in the spheres of political participation, education and health care. It is particularly important to build links at both the local and global levels to face up to issues of development and redistribution in a context of dialogue and peace.

The Maison de la Méditerranée, with branches in various Euromediterranean countries and the invaluable experience already acquired, can prove a vital instrument in this process, paving the way for highly significant projects. Such initiatives take on particular significance in the current phase of international relations. In the wake of Manhattan all are called on to take up new and onerous responsibilities. Campania is in the forefront in committing itself to developing its traditional, historic role as crossroads for the Mediterranean. The referendum confirming the will for federalism creates exciting new possibilities, for the Regions can stipulate international protocols and agreements.

Considerable progress has been made over recent months, with the opening of the Maison a Marrakesh and other topical venues throughout the Euromediterranean area and Regione Campania, and this spurs us onward.

The Regione Campania, with the collaboration of prestigious cultural and university institutions, has a prime role to play in the Mediterranean area, on the strength of its geographical location and cultural traditions of tolerance and integration.

We find further stimulus for our efforts in the Euromediterranean Free Trade Area which, in the intents of the declaration of Barcellona of 1995, is currently being prepared and will be instituted in 2010.

In particular Campania is keen to commit itself in favour of fundamental human rights and political liberties in these countries, fostering the acceleration of economic growth and the reduction of the present socio-cultural divide.

We are faced by stirring challenges, involving first and foremost the economic and civil development of areas and territories which are now particularly strategic, requiring commitment and dedication from every one of us.

We can and must take up these challenges as our political mission.

Antonio Bassolino

President, Regione Campania and

Maison de la Méditerranée