President of Malta George Vella, encourages discussion on a structured, Mediterranean-based student exchange programme at the Young Med Voices Leadership Seminar
President of Malta George Vella suggested the formation of a structured, Mediterranean-based student exchange programme, similar to the European Union’s ERASMUS but with a specific focus on South-South movements, as one idea that could be debated in a bid to ensure that the Mediterranean region becomes a true mosaic of opportunities and people-to-people encounters. Stressing on the importance of South-South cooperation in all sectors if we are to develop a strong, dynamic Mediterranean identity, he noted that we often restrict ourselves to thinking of student mobility from South to North, when the educational and cultural benefits of South-South exchanges between Mediterranean, North African, Middle Eastern and Gulf youth could be limitless.
The President also identified the possible promotion of inter-parliamentary cooperation and encouraged the creation of a Model Youth Mediterranean Parliamentary Assembly, with young representatives from the Mediterranean meeting on a regular basis and proposing areas that need urgent attention to see change being effected. These proposals could then be presented to members of the 5+5 Western Mediterranean Dialogue, the Union for the Mediterranean, and the European Commission for necessary action. The President was addressing participants in the opening of the 3rd Young Mediterranean Voices (YMV) Leadership Training Seminar, coordinated by the Anna Lindh Foundation (ALF) and the Mediterranean Academy of Diplomatic Studies (MEDAC), University of Malta. The YMV is the flagship intercultural dialogue EU-funded programme pioneered across the Southern Mediterranean region and Europe.
The seminar, which usually takes place in Malta, was this year held online due to COVID-19 restrictions, and attracted more than 25 participants from Mediterranean and European countries, selected from around 200 applications. “As you come together during this online seminar, but also back in your own countries, ensure that you spearhead a culture of persuasion rather than coercion, cooperation rather than confrontation, tolerance rather than condemnation, acceptance rather than exclusion - talking to each other rather than shouting at each other,” the President called on the students. “You are ideally placed to influence policy that brings peoples and nations together rather than creating distrust. Less finger pointing and recrimination and more understanding and sharing of responsibilities will go a long way to help solve problems.”
Also present for the President’s message were Nabil al-Sharif, Executive Director of the ALF, and Godfrey Pirotta, Chairperson of MEDAC.