The first high-level meeting the five-nation Arab Maghreb Union (AMU) since 1996 opened on Saturday, 18 February, in the Moroccan capital, . . .[restrict]Rabat. It is also the first meeting since the revolutions in Libya and Tunisia. The union brings together Libya, Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco and Mauretania.
Libyan foreign minister Ashour Ben Khayal presided at the opening session, attended by Morocco’s foreign minister Saad Dine El Othmani, Algerian Foreign Minister Mourad Medelci, Tunisian Foreign Minister Rafik Abdessalam, Mauretania’s ambassador in Rabat and the Secretary-General of the AMU, Habib Ben Yahya.
One of the primary objective of the meeting is to asses the establishment of a unified market across the AMU area.
In his message of welcome, Morocco’s King Mohamed VI called for the creation of a “new Maghreban order that takes account of the changes in Libya and Tunisia”. A message from Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika read out by the Algerian Foreign Minister spoke of the important role for the organization in defending the region’s interests with global partners.
In his opening address, Ben Khayal said that in view of what was happening in the region, there was an imperative to widen and consolidate joint Maghreb activities in service of the peoples of the region. The peoples of the member countries, he said, wanted closer cooperation and ties and were demanding that the authorities “redouble” their efforts for the creation of a Maghreb common market. They wanted freedom of movement and a free exchange of goods and services across the region.
He also called on other members to pay particular attention to young people who, as he said, represent a major proportion of the population. There needs to be a strategy that addresses their needs, he insisted.