By Ahmed Elumami.
Tripoli, 15 February 2014:
The five-member Arab Maghreb Union’s achievements over the past quarter of a century have . . .[restrict]not matched up to the expectations of its members’ citizens, the Prime Minister said today. He was speaking at the meeting of AMU foreign ministers in Tripoli today at which the scope and role of the organisation, its closer integration, and links with the EU topped the agenda.
The meeting also marked its 25th anniversary
The reasons, for the unions’ poor performance were obvious to everyone, Ali Zeidan said, although he did not state them. He was thought to be referring to the fact that for 16 years, between 1996 and 2012, the Union was moribund, with no meetings taking place. It has only revived since the revolutions in Tunisia and Libya, with its first summit in February 2012 in the Moroccan capital, Rabat. Even then, the following summit, planned for Tunisia, did not take place because of political issues in member states.
Today, Zeidan said, there were big ambitions for the Union, but the difficulties and problems were bigger and hard work was needed if they were to be overcome.
There was, he believed, a solid basis for closer economic and commercial relations between members, but if this was too difficult, then the Union should lower its sights. “If we are not able to do this, the solution is [closer] arts, sports, culture, and communications among young people. That can unify us”.
The meeting was an opportunity for discussions between the five countries’ foreign ministers and the Secretary-General of the AMU, Habib Ben Yahia, on the development of AMU institutions, said the Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Mohamed Abdulaziz. One of the goals was improving the standard of living and welfare of the Maghreb’s citizens by creating economic development projects.
In addition to Ben Yahia, the meeting was attended by the Moroccan Foreign Minister, Salaheddine Mezouar, Tunisian Foreign Minister Mongi Hamdi, Algerian Foreign Minister Ramtane Lamamre, and Mauritanian Foreign Minister Ahmed Ould Teguedi.
Members of Libya’s Congressional Committee for Foreign Affairs also attended as did a number of foreign diplomats based in Tripoli. [/restrict]