Representatives of civil society from 35 Euro-Mediterranean countries gather in Istanbul

 Gathered together in Istanbul from June 28 to July 1st, the Advisory Council of the Anna Lindh Foundation and representatives from the Euro-Mediterranean Youth leaders from 35 countries have confirmed and defined the agenda of the Anna Lindh Mediterranean Forum which will take place in Marseille from the 4th to 7th of April 2013, and which will be the largest gathering of civil society from the North and South of the Mediterranean since the beginning of Arab Spring.

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Speaking in Istanbul, the President of the Anna Lindh Foundation, André Azoulay highlighted “the symbolic and pioneering characteristic of the encounter and the dialogue between the personalities of the Advisory Council of the Foundation and NGO leaders from both the North and the South, representing the younger generation in the Mediterranean”.

“This space synthesises and converges without social barriers and involves all ideological, cultural or political tendencies, is emblematic of the legitimacy and the singularity of the action of the Anna Lindh” explained Mr Azoulay, underlining the choice made by the Foundation since 2008 “to confirm its approach in the most direct contact with the most credible instances of civil society in the 42 countries of the Union for the Mediterranean”. 

This approach added Mr. André Azoulay “is needed today more than before when we know the place and role of the civil society in the overhaul of the institutional and political landscape in the South and the social and political impact of the crisis on the North of the Mediterranean”. 

The meetings in Istanbul and those to come this fall, especially the one dedicated for Women in Morocco and for Migration in Algeria, will help to refine and enrich the agenda of the Forum in April 2013 in Marseille, in order  to make this meeting “The Estates-General of the Euro-Mediterranean, with an updated road map, revised and corrected by the important changes that witnesses our region,” concluded the President of the Anna Lindh Foundation. 

In light of the Arab Spring and worldwide movements, youth broke free of their chains and now know they are powerful by default. Absolutely no one can take from anyone the freedom of thought. The myth of shadows has been debunked. The search for the sun is a life long struggle for each one and the mission of every young person is to keep this struggle moving stated Nermine Chatila, on behalf of the participating youth, highlighting the importance of dialogue through Platos Allegory of the Cave.  The 45 youth delegates from the 35 Euro-Mediterranean countries explored for 4 days  from the 28th of June to the 1st of July  what can be Youth Contributions for Dialogue and Change, and concluded  to connect the ‘Dialogue’ agenda with the central issues of ‘Diversity’, ‘Democracy’ and ‘Development’  in accordance with the ALF 4Ds Strategy.

The preparation meetings in Istanbul, which were organised in cooperation with the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the ALF Head of National Network in Turkey, also bought together members of the newly elected Advisory Council of the Anna Lindh Foundation on the 30th of June in order to discuss the new role of the Anna Lindh Foundation and the best ways to make the Anna Lindh Forum 2013 a real momentum for the civil society of the region. The work of our Foundation represents the central role and responsibility that civil society has in shaping and consolidating a peaceful common future for the people living on both sides of the Mediterranean. Of course, fostering dialogue does not produce change overnight. It is not the easy or quick way, but it is the sure and lasting way explained Ambassador Sumru Noyan, the Turkish member of the Advisory council of the Foundation at the opening of the first Advisory Councils meeting.

The Anna Lindh Forum 2013 will represent the largest gathering of civil society from the two shores of the Mediterranean since the Arab Awakening 2011 and following the ongoing social impact of the European economic crisis. The Istanbul meetings are the first of a series of meetings which will take place in different euro-Mediterranean countries around priority themes in preparation of the Forum.

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