France and Morocco co-chair Mediterranean dialogue forum

Thirteenth meeting of the Western Mediterranean (5+5 Dialogue) Forum – Libya/Syria – Statements by M. Jean-Marc Ayrault, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Development, at his joint press conference with his Moroccan counterpart, Mr Salaheddine Mezouar

Marseille, 28 October 2016

Ladies and gentlemen,

Mediterranean dialogue/Marseille

With my friend Salaheddine Mezouar, who is also my opposite number – the Moroccan Foreign Minister –, I co-chaired the 13th meeting of the Western Mediterranean (5+5 Dialogue) Forum.

It’s a body which brings together five countries on the southern and as many on the northern shore of the Mediterranean and which is, above all, a unique forum for dialogue between foreign ministers, providing us with an opportunity to discuss the major common challenges affecting both shores of the Mediterranean. So the 13th meeting was held in Marseille today. I suggested to Salaheddine Mezouar that we hold the meeting in Marseille, he was kind enough to agree, and he perfectly understood its purpose and significance.

Indeed, Marseille is a great French metropolis but also a great Mediterranean metropolis, with a population that is representative of our country’s diversity. It’s a metropolis which I’m convinced has potential, because it’s just provided itself with the means to act, becoming – thanks to the law which was passed and has been implemented since 1 January –, the Aix-Marseille-Provence Metropolis. I’m happy to note that the momentum is there. A few moments ago we met some researchers, because here in Marseille there’s some very significant research potential in the area of Mediterranean cooperation. That’s the case with the development research institute, AViTeM, based in the Villa Méditerranée, OCEMO [Office for Economic Cooperation in the Mediterranean and the Middle East], the CMI – the Centre for Mediterranean Integration – and ANIMA, which brings together research, training and expertise. I welcomed in particular the role of Aix-Marseille University, which has been, in a way, the vanguard of the Marseille metropolis that is now taking off.


I’d like to express my gratitude to Salaheddine Mezouar for understanding the challenge of holding this meeting in Marseille. I’ll also take this opportunity to thank Morocco, because Morocco co-chaired this dialogue body with France and because this presidency is ending. Algeria will be taking up the baton, and France still has a year for the co-presidency. But Morocco will continue to hold an even more prestigious and important presidency, because in a few days’ time your country, cher Salaheddine, will be hosting COP22. I’d like to express my full admiration, because you’ve fully taken up the challenge following the historic decision of the Paris Agreement. You’ve pledged not only to assert ambitious goals but, above all, to implement them, and that’s the whole challenge of COP22, which will kick off in Marrakesh in a few days’ time.

Middle East/Sahel/Libya

As I was saying, the body brings together five countries [each] from the southern and northern shores. Obviously, we discussed a lot of current issues, difficult issues. We discussed the fight against terrorism, of course, an issue common to our countries, the fight against Daesh [so-called ISIL], we also talked about Syria, the Sahel, the Middle East, the necessary dialogue between Israelis and Palestinians, and we devoted a significant amount of time to Libya, where we’re supporting the process involving Mr Sarraj’s Government of National Accord but where we know there’s a huge amount to do to succeed in bringing together all Libya’s forces and diversity. We also know that there’s a challenge in terms of Libyans having their own resources so they can develop, that there’s a security challenge and also a challenge related to immigration, in particular the despicable work of people-smugglers in the central Mediterranean, which is also the source of a lot of suffering.

Of course, we know so much remains to be done. The Tunisian minister proposed that we have a 5+5 meeting on Libya in this format soon, in Tunis; we agreed in principle to this, of course. And we also talked to [Mohamed] Taher Siala, Libya’s Foreign Minister, who provided us with extremely interesting insights into his country.


One topic was the migration crisis, because it’s one of the major common challenges we must tackle. Our challenge is not just to fight illegal immigration and rescue people at sea, but also to have an ambition for development. We’re not dealing with the migration issue solely from the point of view of borders and security – even though this must be done, we’re duty-bound –, we’re doing so in terms of development too. We recalled the decisions taken last year at the Valletta summit between Europe and Africa. The summit focused on immigration, but in particular adopted an ambitious action plan for populations suffering because of war, poverty and for climate reasons. So the development challenge was at the heart of our discussions.

Young people

We of course talked about young people, and have just had discussions with youngsters who, thanks to the Anna Lindh Foundation, had prepared their recommendations. These are ambitious recommendations, which include the training and mobility of young people – essential issues. Young people were at the heart of our concerns because we’re well aware that if young people from our countries, in the north and south, are given no hope, no prospects, then despair can set in and radical propaganda can thrive. And it’s our responsibility to provide the solution, or solutions – because there are many. But these solutions can’t happen without dialogue, which must be held not just with the Parliamentary Assembly of the Mediterranean – which held its meeting with Michel Vauzelle here in Marseille – but also with representatives of civil society. We can’t build solely at the level of states, and COP21 and COP22 are there to show that there must be strong political will to move forward – that’s the role of governments, it’s the role of politicians in our democracies, and it’s also the role of local authorities, members of parliament, civil society, citizens, voluntary organizations and businesses. This is how we’ll restore hope, because our responsibility – and this is why we’re so committed to the 5+5 format – is to restore a bit of confidence and hope in the future. And in fact we believe there are many reasons for achieving this if we give ourselves the means, if we’re able to analyse the causes of the difficulties and if we know how to take on our responsibilities too. That’s why we’re so committed to this dialogue. This dialogue, which took place again today in Marseille, was productive and sincere, warm and friendly too, and this is also part and parcel of the 5+5 dialogue. Thank you. (…)./.

Published on 06/11/2017

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