A small but important stone in the mosaic of Euro-Mediterranean relations
On 15th September, the Anna Lindh Report "EuroMed Intercultural Trends 2010", a public opinion poll on intercultural trends and values in the Euro-Mediterranean region, was launched in Brussels. For the first time, this report sheds light on the reality of intercultural relations in the region. Coordinated by the Anna Lindh Euro-Mediterranean Foundation for Dialogue between Cultures and the consultancy Gallup about 13,000 people from across the two shores of the Mediterranean were asked in this opinion poll.
According to André Azoulay, president of the Anna Lindh Foundation, the report provides an answer to the key question of how "relations between Islam and the West could be built". The poll gives evidence whether there are any cross-cultural values shared between European countries and those on the southern and eastern shores of the Mediterranean.
Concerning the mutual perceptions of the people living in societies in Europe and in the Southern and Eastern Mediterranean region the Anna Lindh Report finds out that despite increased interaction the people from the two shores are still suffering from a distorted and stereotyped perception of each other. The main and most pronounced difference in values between people across the region could be found in the importance on faith and religious values, which affects as well the mutual perceptions.
In addition, there are interesting data in regard to the political relations between the two shores. Are the people in favor of a Mediterranean Union and is there a shared vision of the Mediterranean as an organizing concept? Is the Euro-Mediterranean region viewed as one geographic or cultural space and does a solid basis for regional cooperation exist?
The poll confirms that the Mediterranean is a shared space with specific values and even with a shared ‘Mediterranean attitude’. There exists a common mindset which could allow the people of the Euro-Mediterranean region to feel part of a regional grouping. The people across the region expect that common projects, such as the new Union for the Mediterranean, can benefit their societies positively in the future.
To conclude, there is no doubt that important features of interregional cooperation are still lagging behind expectations. The political dialogue, cultural exchanges and the freedom of the movement of the individuals, just to name a few, have to be improved in the future. For all those willing to enhance the cooperation the Anna Lindh Report provides important background information. It is full of interesting and sometimes surprising findings about the perceptions, interests and feelings of the people across the region. Although the Report is just a small stone in the mosaic of intercultural relations, it is an important one which may contribute to a more integrated Euro-Mediterranean Region. Or in the words of Stefan Füle, EU Commissioner for Enlargement and Neighbourhood Policy: "This report and its recommendations will help us to address some of the challenges we are facing in the region”.
Go to the Anna Lindh Report website or download the PDF version EuroMed Intercultural Trends 2010