Ansip: All parties benefit from Mediterranean free trade area

28.11.2005 | 12:48

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Barcelona, 28 November 2005 — At the summit of the European Union and the other Mediterranean countries held in Barcelona, Prime Minister Andrus Ansip emphasised the need to liberalise trade relations and the market for agricultural products.

“As a European Union border state, Estonia is well aware of how important it is to create a zone of welfare and stability near the external borders of the Union. Regional and economic cooperation are of key importance for achieving this,” said the Prime Minister.

Andrus Ansip pointed out the plan to establish a free trade area of the European Union and the Mediterranean countries by 2010, as a good example of the economic cooperation of the countries located in the region.

“Along with the recent decision to start a debate for the opening of the European Union market to the agricultural products of other Mediterranean countries, these are steps in the right direction. Simplification of trade relations has helped Estonia achieve very rapid economic growth. I am convinced that all the parties will benefit from the further opening of markets in the Mediterranean area, along with the European Union as a whole,” said Andrus Ansip.

Yesterday, the summit discussed the idea of the Alliance of Civilisations, initiated by the Spanish Prime Minister José Luis Rodriguez Zapatero. According to that, civilised states would form a coalition where solidarity in the fight against terrorism is put above religious conviction. In order to achieve actual results within the framework of Zapatero’s initiative, Estonia considers it necessary to prepare a specific action plan for the steps taken under the UN aegis.

The goal of the summit known as Barcelona process is to establish closer political, economic and cultural relationships between the European Union and the Mediterranean states. The Barcelona process was launched by signing a common declaration in Barcelona on 28–29 November 1995, at the conference of the foreign ministers of the EU countries and twelve Mediterranean states.

One of the aims of the summit celebrating the tenth anniversary of the Barcelona process was to enhance the European Union and Mediterranean partnership in order to achieve the goals set ten years ago. The priorities are the fight with terrorism, support for economic reforms, educations issues and the general democratic development of the region.

To date, the Barcelona process has 35 members: 25 EU countries, Turkey, Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Palestinian Autonomy, Lebanon and Syria. Libya participates as an observer.

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