BARCELONA: The Sixth Regional Forum of the Union for the Mediterranean (UfM) gathered Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the Euro-Mediterranean region on 29 November 2021 in Barcelona under the Co-Presidency of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan and the European Union to take stock of progress achieved and to guide further work ahead.
The meeting provided a valuable opportunity to recognize the importance played by the UfM as a unique, action-driven platform promoting regular dialogue and cooperation, and concretely addressing common challenges in view of a more peaceful, secure, green, prosperous and inclusive Mediterranean region.
The UfM can contribute to these goals in the Mediterranean region by creating, through dialogue and cooperation, a political environment that is conducive to the solution, in relevant fora and on the basis of agreed parameters, of the conflicts and the political tensions affecting members of the UfM.
The need to strengthen efforts to solve protracted conflicts and crises that are depriving the region from its right to peace and stability was emphasised.
Regarding the Middle East peace process, recent high-level contacts between the parties were welcomed, including agreeing on measures to improve the socio-economic conditions in the occupied Palestinian territory. All steps were encouraged that contribute to creating political horizons to achieve just and comprehensive Middle East peace and to relaunch effective negotiations to solve the Palestinian Israeli conflict on the basis of the two-state solution and in accordance with international law. It is important that both parties avoid decisions that can undermine trust, including the building of new settlements. The importance of upholding the historical status quo for the Holy Sites in Jerusalem, including with regard to the Hashemite custodianship, was recalled. The indispensable role of UNRWA and the need to support it politically and financially in order to allow it to continue to fulfil its UN mandate was also reaffirmed. To this end, the efforts by Jordan and Sweden to convene an international conference on UNRWA, which took place in Brussels on 16 November 2021, and the commitments demonstrated by the participating countries and international organizations, were highly welcomed.
There was also expression of support for the international and regional efforts to support a Libyan-led and Libyan-owned political process under the UN auspices, with the aim of achieving a political solution to the Libyan crisis, on the basis of the Libyan road map, and relevant UNSC resolutions including 2570 & 2571, a solution that preserves the unity, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Libya, stops all foreign interference, and achieves national reconciliation, sustainable peace and stability. In this regard, the importance of holding presidential and parliamentary elections, on 24 December was reiterated, and the need for the implementation of the 23 October 2020 ceasefire agreement, including agreed upon comprehensive Action Plan resulting in the complete withdrawal of all foreign forces, foreign fighters, and mercenaries from the Libyan territories.
UfM members stressed the continued need to push for a political solution to the Syrian crisis through the full implementation of all aspects of UNSC resolution 2254 and the 2012 Geneva communiqué, aiming at sustainable, genuine and inclusive political solution that preserves the unity, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Syria; restores peace and stability; and creates conditions for the safe, voluntary and dignified return of refugees. Members expressed their full support for UN Special Envoy Geir Pedersen and his efforts, including facilitating the meetings of the Constitutional Committee. UfM members renewed their commitment to supporting the Syrian people through providing humanitarian aid to those in need in Syria and to supporting Syrian refugees and their host countries and communities.
We are ever more determined to work together in a spirit of partnership and this remains a strategic imperative for a strengthened Euro-Mediterranean region. To this effect, we reaffirmed the need of the UfM to increase its synergy with regional and sub-regional initiatives and continue to develop partnerships with multilateral organizations involved in the regional implementation of the 2030 United Nations Agenda for Sustainable Development.
The Roadmap for Action of 2017 remains the comprehensive strategic framework to inform the identification of regional interests, priorities and activities of the UfM. As demonstrated by the UfM Secretariat ahead of the Regional Forum through its detailed report, efforts achieved in the past years to implement the Roadmap have led to significant progress in all five priority areas decided at the Fifth Regional Forum in 2020: environmental and climate action, sustainable and inclusive economic and human development, social inclusiveness and equality, digital transformation, and civil protection.
We suggested meeting again in the same format for a Seventh UfM Regional Forum towards the end of 2022.