A Mediterranean Helsinki to inspire the Italian presidency of the G7

Italian Foreign Minister Gentiloni closes the MED Dialogues in Rome.

Since its inception last year, the MED — Rome Mediterranean Dialogues conference (MED Dialogues) has become “a place to discuss, reflect, and share new, creative ideas” for today’s international challenges, as Italian Foreign Minister Paolo Gentiloni explained at the closing session in Rome.

Italian Foreign Minister Paolo Gentiloni, former Italian President Giorgio Napolitano, and ISPI Executive Director Paolo Magri at the closing session of MED Dialogues in Rome. (Credits: ISPI)

Gentiloni stressed the “extraordinary importance of diplomacy to find new ways” to seek solutions for the turmoil that has been hitting the Mediterranean region.

To stabilize the area, said Gentiloni, we need the full participation of all its actors — including Europe — and an increased political resielience in the souther region of the Mediterranean, with economic stability and growth.

This is where a “Mediterranean Helsinki” comes to play, as the Italian Foreign Minister highlighted.

It is the method that we need to get inspired by. In the midst of the turmoil, we need to buck the system and find ways to move towards deconflicting solutions, trust, and the rule of law. […] To translate this in to a political will is not easy.

During a joint press conference in Rome with US Secretary of State John Kerry — who attended the second day of meetings — Foreign Minister Gentiloni explained that a Mediterranean Helsinki refers to the method and the context, althouth the context is quite different.

It was the idea that during turmoil, conflicts, contrasts, it is possible to start building the foundation for a new order. Of course, it’s easy if there are no conflicts, but you’ve got to try to do this precisely when there are conflicts.

In the spirit of Helsinki, the key is not only the diplomatic work to solve those crises, it’s also the creation of sustainable trust between states and the mutual recognition of each other’s religious beliefs. Gentiloni also added how it’s important to solve certain common joint problems like environmental problems, and to come up with common security packages.

He said: “Helsinki went on for various years in this manner, tackling and addressing problems from the nucleus.”

So it’s a method, a method to build up trust, mutual recognition amongst states, amongst religious beliefs, to reduce conflicts, and this is what we are going to try to do when we take over the presidency of the G7 and we sit on the Security Council of United Nations.
UN Special Envoy Staffan De Mistura and EU High Representative for Foreign Policy Federica Mogherini at MED Diamogues in Rome. (Credits: ISPI)

The last day of MED Dialogues was also attended by the United Nations Special Envoy for Syria Staffan De Mistura and High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice-President of the European Commission Federica Mogherini in a session that focused on Syria and the road ahead, and the role of Europe, the UN, and all Mediterranean partners in achieving a solution.


For more on the G7 summit in Taormina, Sicily, and our dispatches on the Italian presidency of the G7 in 2017, follow our G7inUS publication here on Medium and Medium Italiano, or follow us on Twitter. For the official channel of the G7 presidency in 2017, follow @G7Italy2017 on Twitter and use hashtag #G7Italy2017.

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