23rd - 26th June 2011

‘Tunis Forum is a symbol of peace, dialogue and social change’

For the first time since the Arab Spring, the launch of the Anna Lindh Exchange Forum in Tunis brings together civil society and youth leaders from across the Mediterranean region to build together democratic and pluralistic societies.

More than 200 civil society representatives, social and cultural activists and youth leaders from across the Arab region and different parts of Europe were present in the Tunisian capital for the launch of the ‘Tunis Exchange Forum‘.

An initiative of the Anna Lindh Foundation, the Mediterranean institution for intercultural dialogue which has its headquarters in Alexandria (Egypt), the Exchange Forum has been designed to offer a platform for civil society actors to exchange experiences, ideas and good practices in the context of democratic transition and building pluralistic societies. The majority of participants are from the Anna Lindh Arab Mediterranean Networks in Algeria, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Mauritania, Palestine, Tunisia and Syria.

Speaking at the opening, the Tunisian Minister of Foreign Affairs M. Mohamed Mouldi Kefi, said: “It is an honour for the people of Tunisia the Anna Lindh Foundation has chosen our country to organise this forum at such an important and special moment in our history. The Forum is a symbol of peace, dialogue, sacrifice and social change, and civil society have a central role in building the new emerging societies”

Stefan Fule, EU Commissioner for European Neighborhood Policy underlined: “Europe has learned in an important way from the Arab uprisings. It is now time for Europe to enhance dialogue with its southern neighbors, and to change its approach towards reform which should become from now on a process driven by people.

Amre Moussa, Secretary General of the League of Arab States called on the participants in Tunis “to focus on development and cultural cooperation through proposing new mechanisms, new recommendations that can help in putting an end to all the issues related to the clash of civilisations”.

Andre Azoulay, President of the Anna Lindh Foundation, said: “The Arab Spring made us realise that words like freedom, justice and dignity have no borders and are written in the same way in the South and the North. History is now knocking at our doors and we should all gather and act together to write our own History and build our common future”.

Speaking at the Forum, Andreu Claret, Executive Director of the Anna Lindh Foundation, underlined: “This is the moment to relaunch Euro-Mediterranean cooperation, in the context of the Arab democratic transition. Democracy cannot exist without plurality, and the Anna Lindh Foundation and its Civil Society Networks will play an important role in this process of opening up to dialogue and diversity.”

The Anna Lindh Exchange Forum is being co-organized with the Foundation for the Future and the Swedish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and in association with the UNESCO-ALECSO Club of Tunisia, the British Council, the European Broadcasting Union, the European Union’s External Action Service and the Ministry of Culture Tunisia. The Exchange Forum will contribute directly to defining the new strategic priorities for the Anna Lindh Foundation in its next phase, in particular with a focus on supporting democracy, human rights values and sustainable development through intercultural dialogue.

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