Sunday, October 28, 2007

Mediterranean Union

In the same way that General de Gaulle used to dream of a European Union that would stretch from the Atlantic to the Ural Mountains in western Russia, Nicolas Sarkozy has been starting to evoke the concept of a Mediterranean Union that would encompass all the nations on the edge of the legendary "middle of the Earth", from Beirut in the Levant to the Strait of Gibraltar, where the Sun sets over the Atlantic, and from the European Riviera down to the Maghreb, the Sahara and the primordial motherland of Judeo-Christian culture: Egypt.

It's certainly a grand idea, which stirs the imagination. After all, this is where a lot of human and social action has been taking place since the dawn of civilization. For the moment, though, it's little more than a vague dream... in spite of the fact that the French president threw this idea into a major speech delivered in Tangier during his recent state visit to Morocco. Faced with this concept, certain media in the Maghreb are frankly hostile, considering such French ideas as a resurgence of colonialist thinking.

Concerning the creation of the European Union, the challenge involved nations located within a single continent. A hypothetical Mediterranean Union, on the other hand, would involve at least two continents, Europe and Africa... not to mention Turkey and the edge of the Middle East. And it would seek to associate peoples of the three great monotheistic faiths. At a political level, the creation of such a heterogeneous entity would be a Herculean task, akin to landing on the Moon. But it's exciting, if not encouraging, to see that a French bulldog such as Sarkozy dares to dream of such a project. One never knows what might happen...

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