1st Standing Committee Reports and Resolutions Adopted
The First PAM Standing Committee dedicated to Political and Security Cooperation discussed and adopted two reports and their respective resolutions, which dealt with the Mena political developments (Rapporteur Hon. Justyne Caruana-Malta) and Public Sector Corruption in the Mediterranean Region (Rapporteur Hon. Giorgio Girgis Sorial-Italy).
The session was also addressed by the President of the House of Representatives of Morocco, H.E. Karim Ghellab, the Consul-General of Greece in Marseilles, Mr. Stylianos Gavriil, who highlighted the priorities of the current Greek EU Presidency, the Diredctor for European Affairs of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Jordan, Dr. Yousef Bataineh, and Dr. Fadia Dib from the Foreign Relations Committee of the Syrian Parliament.
Following are the presentations delivered by Hon. Pedro Roque (Portugal) and by Hon. Girtgis Sorial respectively.
PARLIAMENTARY ASSEMBLY OF THE MEDITERRANEAN
ASSEMBLEE PARLEMENTAIRE DE LA MEDITERRANEE
الجمعيـــة البرلمانيــة للبحـــر الأبيــض المتوســـــــط
Report on the Middle East prepared by Hon. Justyne Caruana
Presented by Hon. Pedro Roque
on the occasion of the PAM 8th Plenary Session
20 January 2014, Marseille, France
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The report that we have today is part of the work of PAM Ad-Hoc committee on Middle East and Arab Spring. It focuses on the political development in the region and namely the Middle East Peace Process and the ongoing conflict in Syria. It moreover gives an overview of the situation in the post Arab Spring countries and the reform efforts of Morocco and Jordan. At this point, I would like to refer to Hon. George Vella, former Head of PAM Ad Hoc Committee on the Middle East and currently Foreign Minister of Malta, who contributed generously and devotedly to the work of this Ad-hoc Committee in the previous years.
PAM’s missions to Syria and Lebanon and, more recently, to Jerusalem, Ramallah and Amman, play an important role in the report since they generated very interesting insights. Through its missions to the region, PAM has demonstrated its willingness and preparedness to play a facilitating and positive role in the Middle East.
PAM’s growing importance in this sub-region was highlighted, for example, when Israel’s decision to stop settlement construction in November 2013 was directly communicated to PAM representatives by the UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, H.E. Robert Serry, and by Hon. Tzipi Livni, Israel’s top negotiator in the peace talks. During the missions, it became clear that PAM’s role as a forum – until recently the only forum – where both conflict parties met in the past years is highly appreciated.
Key aspects, such as the Iran negotiation, the Syrian crisis and the Peace Process, were discussed while PAM delegates visited Jerusalem, Ramallah and Amman.
In addition, PAM demonstrated its interest to tackle the core issues of the conflict by attending the 2013 UN Seminar on Assistance to the Palestinian People in Rome. PAM stressed its commitment to cooperation with the UN on border and settlements issues.
In connection with the PAM mission to Syria and Lebanon, delegates of the Assembly met with Syrian MPs and representatives of the UN. Key issues, such as increasing the protection of civilians and improving conditions for humanitarian aid amongst others, were addressed. During the meetings, what stood out was the consensus and understanding that a resolution of this conflict can be facilitated only by political means. It should be added that PAM played not only an observing and advising role during its mission, but moreover transmitted messages from the EU to Damascus. PAM thereby contributed to the communication between international key players.
The report also deals with the transitional processes of other post Arab Spring countries, such as Libya, Tunisia and Egypt. The transition in Libya is characterized by ongoing instability and violent acts conducted by armed militia groups, who fill a power and security vacuum in the country. In order to deal with the various issues, which Libya’s multi-tribal and politically divided society faces, PAM assists Libya by promoting investments targeting SMEs.
In order to avoid that Tunisia will lapse into social unrest because of marginalized young people; PAM supports Tunisia in tackling its domestic challenges, such as rising youth unemployment, the collapse of the tourism sector and its generally weak economy.
In Egypt Political reforms are still ongoing and neither social inclusion nor government accountability was translated into reality yet. In a very recent development, and what can be seen as a milestone for the new Egypt, the new constitution was submitted to popular referendum last week.
Also the kings of Jordan and Morocco have experienced social pressure, and they reacted by implementing highly appreciated democratic reforms. Both countries put effort into increasing the credibility of elections and institutions, as well as the rule of law. Still, Jordan and Morocco will face major challenges in the future, for example due to high youth unemployment, which is why these countries need our support.
Here in Marseille, PAM reiterates its commitment to promote all efforts towards resolving challenges in the MENA region, at present, first of all through supporting the US Administration’s efforts to lead the peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians to positive results, second by facilitating and depoliticizing humanitarian assistance to refugees of the Syrian civil war, as well as by finding a political solution to the conflict. Related to that, PAM hopes that the Geneva II conference will be a success which brings us closer to peace and stability in the Middle East.
Furthermore, it should be noted that the Syrian Parliament responded to the PAM Middle East report with some amendment proposals. PAM welcomes this contribution to its work.
Finally, I wish to voice some recommendations for future action in this field, based on the resolutions of the Middle East report, on which we will vote later. To begin, it is essential that the international community gives priority to the Middle East Peace Process in order to maximize chances of success. However, restraint on the side of the conflict parties is equally important, meaning that Israel is urged to refrain from further settlement activities in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, while Hamas needs to refrain from violence against Israel and its domestic opposition. Furthermore, Israel should stick to its decision to release the agreed number of prisoners in the following months, and Fatah and Hamas should engage in negotiations to improve their cooperation.
With regards to Syria, it is also important that the warring parties ensure the protection of civilians, respect human rights, enable delivery of humanitarian aid and facilitate participation as well as constructive dialogue at the Geneva II conference.
Finally, for the purpose of future stability and prosperity in our region, it will be essential that we, fellow parliamentarians, support the post Arab Spring countries in addressing their domestic socio-economic issues to avoid malaise among their people.
I wish to express my gratitude to all the delegations for their suggestions on the draft report and resolution. Thank you for your kind attention.
PARLIAMENTARY ASSEMBLY OF THE MEDITERRANEAN
ASSEMBLEE PARLEMENTAIRE DE LA MEDITERRANEE الجمعيـــة البرلمانيــة للبحـــر الأبيــض المتوســـــــط
Presentation of the Report on
“Strategies to combat public sector corruption in the Mediterranean” by Hon. Giorgio Girgis Sorial (Italy) on the occasion of the
8th meeting of PAM’s Standing Committees
Marseille, 20 January 2014
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The report on strategies to combat public sector corruption in the Mediterranean focuses on a highly import issue, which affects all PAM Member States.
Our Assembly has already addressed the phenomenon since the Plenary Session of 2009 in Turkey, when the Special Task Force on Organised Crime was established, notably through the outstanding commitment of our Italian colleague Hon. Angela Napoli.
This year, we are addressing corruption in the public sector as requested by numerous Member
States at our Plenary Session in Malta and at the PAM/UN Round Table to prepare the Copenhagen COP 15 Conference on climate change. I wish to inform you that our report on corruption is particularly detailed, and that all of the specifics are taken from reliable sources such as:
- The World Bank Institute (WBI);
- The Corruption Perception Index (CPI), updated on December 2013, carried out by Transparency International;
- The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) survey reports;
- The United Nations Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC)
- The Group of States Against Corruption (GRECO), a body of the Council of Europe (CoE) National and International reliable official sources
The report looks into the impact of this rooted phenomenon on our Countries.
In regards of my own Country, we referred to the official report on the costs of corruption in the public sector, which was set up by the Italian Finance Police (Guardia di Finanza). The outcome of this investigation revealed that the corruption of public officers and employees costs Italy more than 3 billion Euro each year. We should not hide this information and use it to fight the phenomenon.
The corruption is an obstacle to international economic development, since it reduces trade and discourages foreign direct investments. The World Bank Institute estimates the amount of illicit flow of money from private firms to public officers up to 1 trillion US Dollar per year.
Furthermore, corruption undermines growth and contributes to poverty, it violates democracy and freedom; it is a major impediment to the achievement of the changes necessary for political, social and economic development, justice and democracy.
The report, moreover, goes through the results of the Corruption Perception Index (CPI), which shows that the majority of Mediterranean States exhibits above average levels of corruption compared to other regions of the world. Consequently, the perceived corruption levels in most Mediterranean States are excessively high.
My report proves that corruption is also deeply rooted in the political infrastructure of the States. For that reason, I recommend PAM Member States to invest in combating corruption by improving civil service management, administrative legal frameworks, public governance strategy and reforms. In addition, I invite PAM Member States to take all the legal and legislative measures necessary to improve activities aimed at addressing the proliferation of the phenomenon. I would also recommend national authorities to promote a change in culture through educational campaigns and other initiatives, designed to improve the understanding of the economic and social effects of this harmful phenomenon.
Dear Colleagues, much work remains to be done. Our Countries must ratify the Conventions against corruption, also because they foster a number of related positive processes, as summarized by Transparency International:
- Facilitate international cooperation in the control and sanctioning of corruption;
- Provide internationally agreed reference points;
- Create peer pressure on governments;
- Provide civil society with a tool for holding their governments accountable;
- Promote collective pressure on the private sector;
- Provide for fora in which governments, and in some cases non-governmental actors, can meet to discuss corruption issues, align concepts and review anti-corruption efforts.
Finally, I wish to urge all PAM Parliamentarians to sensitize their Governments to face this urgent problem, since corruption in the public sector represents a major obstacle to economic growth, which, in such a delicate moment of economic instability, should motivate us more to focus our energy and commitment on this vital issue.
It should be noted that both the Syrian and Greek Parliaments responded to our report with some amendment proposals. I welcomed their contribution to my work.
I wish also express my gratitude to all the delegations for their suggestions on the draft report and resolution, and I suggest to work together also at comparing lessons learnt and best practise to help each other in fighting this aspect of criminality.
Thank you for your kind attention.