2011:THE CHALLENGES OF THE NEW YEAR IN THE MEDITERRANEAN   Leave a comment

ROME, DECEMBER 30 – MOROCCO – Strong in its unique position as the only partner country to have obtained advanced ”status”, Morocco under its young King Mohammad VI is looking forward to a future in which it can stand as a model of development for the Mediterranean area. And it does so not only on the basis of the economic reforms it has put through over the past fifteen years in order to promote foreign investment, but also on that of the social and political reforms aimed at consolidating the contry’s democratic structure, the safeguarding of civil rights and the furthering of those of women.

Nonetheless, the autumn of 2010 has seen Morocco in the spotlight of the international press because of the unresolved issue of the Western Sahara – the former Spanish colony integrated into Moroccan territory in 1975, but for which the Polisario Front is claiming independence and not the greater autonomy being offered by Rabat. The incidents which occurred during the clearing of the illegal Saharawi encampment of Layooune, which saw the deaths of around a dozen Moroccan police officers, and not of the dozens of civilians which Polisario alleged, have come as a sharp alarm call for the country, but also as an opportunity to awaken national pride in response to criticism coming from sources including the European Parliament.

TUNISIA – The year 2010 closes out with Tunisia becoming aware of a profound problem involving youth unemployment in the country (secondary school and university graduates in particular), which according to unofficial estimates, is at 14%.

The unrest has been underscored by large-scale protests and clashes in the streets, which began in the last 10 days of December in several cities in the country, starting with the inland region of Sidi Bouzid, where the attempted suicide of a young man from the area set off the protests. In order to deal with the new social emergency, the government, which has been led for over 20 years by President Ben Ali, announced an investment programme aimed at offering new job opportunities, focussing on Sidi Bouzid in particular to boost the economy in the region starting next year.

Tunisia is not lacking development prospects in the industrial and commercial sectors, as favourable regulations are set to go into effect regarding cooperation with the EU. Tourism should also be favoured by the Open Skies agreement, while they are working on the convertibility of the dinar. BALKANS – The challenge in the Western Balkans for 2011 is undoubtedly speeding up their path towards EU accession. Except for Slovenia, which is already in the EU, all of the other countries are currently going through the process: Serbia is looking to obtain the status of a candidate country by the fall, after in late January-early February they will deliver a questionnaire responding to the 2,500 questions asked by the EU Commission to Belgrade. Croatia hopes to successfully complete negotiations by the end of the year and enter into the EU at the start of 2012; Montenegro is hoping that a date will be set for the start of accession negotiations; Macedonia is looking to 2011 as a turning point in the long dispute over their name with Greece, which is blocking Skopje’s entrance into the EU; Bosnia-Herzegovina hopes that with the new government expected to begin work at the start of the year, the institutional reform process requested by the EU and the international community in order to join the EU will be sped up; Kosovo is expecting that next year visa requirements to EU countries will be abolished.

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Posted December 31, 2010 by newworldconsulting in Uncategorized

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