11 December 2003


NEW YORK, 10 December (UN Headquarters) -- Following is Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s message to the first Summit of Heads of State and Government of the Western Mediterranean cooperation partner countries, held in Tunis on 5 and 6 December 2003, delivered by Ariel Français, United Nations Resident Coordinator in Tunisia (translated from French):

I have the pleasure of extending to you warm greetings on the occasion of this first Summit of Heads of State and Government of the Western Mediterranean cooperation partner countries.  I wish to pay tribute to the people and Government of Tunisia, who are hosting this important meeting in their capital, under the leadership of President Ben Ali.

One of the striking features of your region is the importance that has always been attached to human, commercial and cultural exchanges among your peoples.  From time immemorial, your civilizations have been enriched through contact with one another, while preserving their characteristic traits.

This Summit offers an opportunity to enhance the dialogue -- both the political dialogue and the dialogue of cultures and civilizations -- among the countries of the Western Mediterranean, in order to build confidence between your peoples and facilitate the harmonious co-development of the region.

Strengthening cooperation and coordination between your countries can only foster regional security and stability.

Developing common strategies in relation to the globalization of trade will have a positive impact on regional growth and stability.  In this context, it is important for the European side to continue to support the Maghreb countries’ efforts to achieve economic integration and cooperation.

The way in which migration issues are handled also influences regional security and stability.  For this reason, I welcome your desire to promote a comprehensive, balanced and concerted approach to human exchanges and migration.

All of your peoples aspire to progress, prosperity, peace and stability.  It is up to you, their leaders, to establish common strategies and policies which can make these aspirations a reality throughout the region.

I encourage the Arab Maghreb Union countries to solidify their regional integration and formulate common goals so as to take full advantage of the partnership with their European neighbours.

Consolidating this partnership will help to strengthen Euro-Maghrebin, Euro-Mediterranean and Euro-Arab cooperation -- a process which the United Nations supports as the basis for a common future of peace and prosperity.

I wish you a fruitful discussion.

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