The Med Basin Creates a Free-Trade Zone
Land, Thomas, The Middle East
THE PARIS SUMMIT in July of 43 countries with a combined population of close to 800m people launched the Union for the Mediterranean with the promise of creating a free-trade zone by 2012. Although the initiative of French President Nicholas Sarkozy, failed to meet with universal approval, it nevertheless brought together the Middle East, North Africa and the European Union (EU), along with old adversaries, including Syria and Israel--technically still at war--as well as Turkey and Greece that have been at odds for centuries. An unusual feature of the organisation is the absence of political conditions of membership. Union heads of state will meet every other year, while foreign ministers will meet annually, with the first summit scheduled for November.
Some aspects of the organisation's financing and the location of its permanent secretariat are yet to be resolved as well as the identity of its first secretary-general. The Arab League originally sought full membership in the union but eventually settled for "permanent observer" status.
The only prominent Arab statesman conspicuous by his absence from the inaugural conference was President Muammar …
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Publication information: Article title: The Med Basin Creates a Free-Trade Zone. Contributors: Land, Thomas - Author. Magazine title: The Middle East. Issue: 393 Publication date: October 2008. Page number: 40+. © 2009 IC Publications Ltd. COPYRIGHT 2008 Gale Group.
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