Sunday, July 13, 2008

Union for the Mediterranean

It would be extraordinary, in many ways, if today's summit meeting organized by Nicolas Sarkozy in Paris were to be a prelude to success concerning the creation of a Union for the Mediterranean. Throughout history, this great sea in the middle of the planet Terra has been a place of violence.

As recently as 1962, when I first set foot in France, bombs were exploding in Paris as a final consequence of a terrible conflict between France and Algeria. Anecdote: I'll never forget hearing and seeing the outcome of an explosion, one February evening, opposite my hotel in the Rue des Ecoles, which destroyed a bookshop window into which I had been gazing a few minutes earlier.

For the moment, it's too early to guess whether Sarkozy's daring initiative might bear fruit.

On French TV this evening, Bashar Al-Assad was interviewed by the journalist Laurent Delahousse, and my overall impression was more positive than what I might have expected. The Syrian leader certainly sounds like a less bellicose man than his late father. Before the Mediterranean becomes a sea of peace, however, a lot of water will flow through the Strait of Gibraltar.

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