Sarkozy and 42 other leaders set to launch Mediterranean Union
Leaders and representatives from 43 nations were set to meet later Sunday in Paris to launch the Union for the Mediterranean, an ambitious project intended to deepen relations between the EU and countries along the Mediterranean Basin, dpa reported.
Early Sunday, EU foreign ministers and their counterparts from 14 non-EU Mediterranean states, were meeting to prepare the union's establishment.
A pet project of French President Nicolas Sarkozy's, the union is a revamped version of the so-called Barcelona Process, which was founded by the EU in that Spanish city in 1995.
The launch of the Mediterranean Union is expected to be accompanied by the announcement of several specific projects, such as a belt of solar power plants around the Mediterranean, the harmonization of seaway controls, a programme to help cope with natural disasters and the creation of an agency to promote medium- sized businesses.
Ahead of the Mediterranean Union's first summit meeting, Sarkozy was scheduled to hold talks with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and the president of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas. A joint statement was to be issued after the meeting.
Conceived as well to be a mechanism to ease political tensions in the region, the union scored its first success on Saturday when Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and his Lebanese counterpart, Michel Suleiman, met in Paris and announced that their two countries intended to normalize relations.