(Left) Jean Asselborn, Luxembourg's Minister of Foreign and European Affairs; Credit: MAEE

On Thursday 24 November 2022, Luxembourg's Minister of Foreign and European Affairs, Jean Asselborn, participated in the seventh Regional Forum of the Union for the Mediterranean (UfM) in Barcelona.

Placed under the chairmanship of the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice-President of the European Commission, Josep Borrell, and the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Jordan, Ayman Safadi, the seventh Regional Forum brought together the representatives of the 42 member states of the UfM.

The Regional Forum opened with the adoption by the 42 Member States of the Ministerial Declaration on the accession of North Macedonia to the UfM. Minister Asselborn was pleased that North Macedonia could finally join the Union for the Mediterranean, considering the country as an integral part of the Mediterranean basin.

Turning to the UfM's 2030 youth strategy, Minister Asselborn pointed out that the Mediterranean is a young region, where the socio-economic gap between the two shores of the basin must be bridged in order to enable current and future young generations to realise their full potential. “Unfortunately, the socio-economic gap continues to increase under the impact of climate change, the COVID-19 pandemic and the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine,” added the minister.

The UfM, as the only platform for partnership and dialogue that brings together all the Mediterranean countries, can play an important role in helping Member States to meet these multiple challenges. In this context, Minister Asselborn called for a more inclusive, sustainable and resilient regional economy in view of the still too unbalanced trade relations between the two shores of the Mediterranean.

Regarding migration in the Mediterranean, Minister Asselborn said: “Migration is a human phenomenon, which requires a human migration policy. It has always existed and to announce that we can stop it altogether is a lie. It is therefore in our common interest to create legal avenues of migration for those who, for one reason or another, are pressured to migrate. Otherwise, more lives will be at risk in the Mediterranean, falling into the hands of traffickers or worse, unscrupulous jailers. The Mediterranean, which was once a meeting point between cultures has become a deadly trap. Let’s make it a common area of ​​cooperation instead!

In conclusion of his speech, Minister Asselborn condemned the murderous attack that took place yesterday in Jerusalem and expressed his condolences to the families of the victims. "In order to break this vicious circle of hatred and violence, we must imperatively relaunch the peace process, ultimately allowing the establishment of a Palestinian state within the 1967 borders, with Jerusalem as the capital of the two states", said the minister.

On the sidelines of the Regional Forum, Minister Asselborn had a bilateral meeting with Abdallah Bou Habib, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates of Lebanon. The two ministers had an in-depth exchange of views on the economic and humanitarian situation in Lebanon.