26 September 1994

Doc. 7160

1403-23/9/94-3-E

CONTRIBUTION

of the Committee on Science and Technology

to the debate of the Assembly

on co-operation in the Mediterranean basin

by Mr INÖNÜ,

Turkey, Socialist Group


1.       Introduction

      It is no exaggeration to say that the Mediterranean basin where three continents meet, the three major monotheistic religions are face to face and millenary empires have come and gone, is also the birthplace of science.

      It is not only the European shore of the Mediterranean which has undergone periods of extraordinary cultural and scientific development. The Islamic Caliphates were at the zenith of their power when they decided to occupy a large part of the Iberian peninsula and other territories on the southern flanks of the European continent. All the scientific, philosophical and technological progress made by the Muslims in Spain had repercussions throughout the European continent from the ninth and tenth centuries onwards.

      Now, over ten centuries later, influence and, above all, dependence still exist, but mostly in the opposite direction. Scientific and technological co-operation is often limited to aid given by industrialised countries to countries on the southern rim of the Mediterranean.

      "Mediterranean" has become a purely geographical label since politically, economically and culturally speaking — to take only three areas as example — the differences between the north, east and south of the sea have become enormous, not to say dramatic. Roughly speaking, there are two distinct blocs: the European Union countries, on one side, and the Arab countries of the Mediterranean, on the other. Some countries fit into neither bloc: Turkey, Israel, the Balkans, Cyprus and Malta.

2.       The Mediterranean and the challenges at the end of the century

      The numerous conferences and publications and some treaties (such as the Barcelona Convention, of 1975, on the protection of the Mediterranean against pollution, signed by all the Mediterranean states) are proof of the awareness of the urgent need to solve the region's problems.

      For a long time and to an increasing extent, the Council of Europe has acted to step up and widen co-operation in the Mediterranean basin. Its most important initiatives are:

      —th       e activities of the Conference of Local and Regional Authorities of Europe (CLRAE), in particular its Conference of Mediterranean Regions, which has already dealt with several aspects of transmediterranean co-operation in Marseille (1985), Malaga (1987) and Taormina (1993).—

      —th       e EUR-OPA Major Hazards Agreement, intended to create a dynamic structure to contribute to a more efficient organisation of relief in disasters. Its aim is to foster research into prediction and prevention, while contributing to the provision of information and training. Research and training are carried out by a network of twelve specialised European centres (see appendix). This agreement is open to non-member states of the Council of Europe.—

      —th       e activities of the North-South Centre in Lisbon (which among other things staged an International Symposium on Transmediterranean Interdependence and Partnership, in Rome, in January 1994).—

      —th       e reports drafted by various Parliamentary Assembly committees (for example "Fresh water Europe", for a pan-European policy on the management of freshwater resources), dealing with different aspects of present-day importance in the Mediterranean, according to the committees' various areas of responsibility.Ap

      Apart from the Council of Europe, other international organisations are also very active in the Mediterranean basin:

      —th       e United Nations and in particular the Regional Committees for Africa (UNECA), West Asia (ESCWA) and Europe (ECE) can play an important role. As part of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) a Mediterranean Action Plan (MAP) was launched in 1979, dealing with the Mediterranean environment. Over the years it has been equipped with two instruments which increase the efficiency of its action: the Blue Plan and the Programme for Priority Actions (PPA). More generally there are various development programmes under way, benefiting the countries of North Africa (UNNADAF, IDDA II and UNACTADA II).—

      —th       e European Union dedicated a chapter to the Mediterranean in the 1991-94 R&D programme in the field of the environment. In the past the Communities have launched specific programmes for the Mediterranean (PIM, CORINE, etc.). More recent initiatives include the MEDSPA plan (Action Plan for the Protection of the Environment in the Mediterranean Region), the MED MEDIA programme, the AVICENNE programme 1nd the Euro-Maghreb Agreements, based on the concept of partnership.An

      Another example — in the field of co-operation in education — is the UNIMED programme (Mediterranean Universities) which has the dual objective of bringing about integration between existing cultural and political institutions and developing a multilateral cultural policy between the European Community and non-member Mediterranean countries. The structure is based on mobility and exchanges of human and cultural resources.

      —th       e CSCE is mainly concerned with security and co-operation in the Mediterranean. In this framework, several conferences have been held (Valletta in 1979, Venice in 1984 and Palma de Mallorca in 1990).Th

      There is also a co-operation axis, in the shape of the 5+5 Group for the western Mediterranean: Algeria, Spain, France, Italy, Libya, Malta, Morocco, Mauritania, Portugal and Tunisia, which is intended to turn the region into an area of development and solidarity.

      The problems which all these organisations must deal with are complex and interlinked:

      Demographic growth will be one of the most urgent and difficult problems to solve. It is partly the cause and consequence of the economic recession and poverty, triggering off a whole series of other problems which are common to all Islamic nations around the Mediterranean. Even more than their European neighbours, these countries suffer from a lack of urban planning which adds to pollution in a region whose ecological balance is already very precarious.

      The financial and material resources initially earmarked for development are increasingly being switched to emergency relief and economic recovery. Economic stagnation — and the social tension and political instability which result from it — only foster emigration to Europe. This presents these countries with the risk of a brain-drain, dashing hopes for a domestically led upturn.

      In addition to action to deal with socio-economic, political and demographic difficulties, measures must be taken to avoid ecological disasters caused by land-based pollution and pollution from shipping. There are also endemic natural disasters such as seismic risks, desertification and soil erosion, deforestation and forest fires, requiring prevention policies.

      Another environmental challenge of the end of the century is agriculture. Food security and supplies of drinking-water are threatened by the population explosion and the quest for maximum productivity with little concern for ecological balance.

      The complexity of all these issues, in a strategic yet, for several reasons, explosive region, will make any form of co-operation difficult but also all the more urgent and necessary.

3.       Prospects for scientific and technological co-operation

      It is a fact that, in terms of technological and scientific development, the differences between the north and south shores of the Mediterranean are considerable. Israel is a case apart, with a science and technology policy comparable to that of the most successful western countries.

      These differences must not, however, be seen as an obstacle to greater scientific and technological co-operation. In each country there are research centres and university or other institutes which could belong to co-operation networks. Three conditions, it would seem, need to be met so that this co-operation can take place in the best possible circumstances:

      —in       formation exchange and contacts between these establishments must be improved;—

      —th       e types of research and actions which are of common interest to the Mediterranean countries must be selected;—

      —Me       diterranean research centres, funded by European organisations, need to be set up.So

      Some progress along this road has already been made. A good example is the setting up of the Academia Mediterranensis Halicarnassensis in Bodrum, Turkey. An initiative of EADI (European Association of Development, Research and Training Institutes), this research and teaching centre became operational at the beginning of 1994.

      There follows a list of the areas suitable for transmediterranean co-operation. Some of these suggestions concern living standards and the environment, while others are vital for promoting closer cultural and political relations between the two sides of the Mediterranean.

3.1.       Scientific and technological co-operation in the field of the environment

      In this context, reference must be made to the recommendations made in Rio de Janeiro, on the occasion of the United Nations Conference on the Environment and Development (UNCED). It would be regrettable if they were not implemented for lack of political will. Specific regional co-operation would be one way of ensuring that they were put into effect.

Water

      Water is one of the most precious assets in the Mediterranean basin and is therefore a potential source of conflict. The quality and quantity alike of available supplies are dwindling. Above all else, inter-state rivalry must give way to solidarity.

      Scientific research into water should be focused on the development and application of new techniques for recycling waste water and prospecting for new water-tables. At the same time, domestic, industrial and agricultural water consumption must be rationalised and pollution reduced.

      These actions call for an awareness of the problem and discussion among all these involved: company heads, decision-makers, families, farmers, etc. This could lead to sustainable water management, as already mentioned in the Brundtland report and reiterated at the Rio Conference.

      In addition, new technologies might be devised for transporting water from areas with plentiful supplies by, for example, building pipelines to carry water to the Mediterranean.

Natural disasters

      Fighting desertification, supporting forest conservation and reafforestation, preventing and putting out forest fires etc., are problems also faced by the European countries around the Mediterranean. They too were discussed at the Rio Summit.

      More than ever the need is being felt to exchange views and share experience, for example on the issue of forest fires, so that new techniques can be found, traditional methods improved and the means of fighting forest fires standardised. A scientific centre might be set up in order to improve the co-ordination of these measures to promote global management of the Mediterranean forest.

      Air pollution causing global warming is one of the problems which requires a collective response. Stringent measures are needed since scientific studies have shown that the Mediterranean ecosystem might be affected more harshly than other regions by the greenhouse effect.

      In March 1987, the Committee of Ministers voted for the "Open partial agreement on the prevention of, protection against, and organisation of relief in major natural and technological disasters". This agreement is open to states not members of the Council of Europe as well as those member states which are interested. International organisations may also ask to take part.

      Several Mediterranean countries have signed the agreement: Algeria, France, Greece, Israel, Italy, Malta, Portugal, San Marino, Spain and Turkey. It would be helpful if other countries in the Mediterranean basin were to join and benefit from preventive technological and scientific assistance or relief following natural disasters.

Alternative energy and environmentally sound technologies

      The use of energy sources other than cheap oil, such as wind or sun, would dramatically cut air pollution but require the wide-scale introduction of new technologies.

      The use of environmentally sound technologies will require a shift in mentalities and a collective awareness of their usefulness since "environmentally sound technologies are not just individual technologies, but total systems which include know-how, procedures, goods and services, and equipment as well as organisational and managerial procedures".2

      According to the Rio Declaration these environmentally sound technologies are: "less polluting, use all resources in a more sustainable manner, recycle more of their wastes and products, and handle residual wastes in a more acceptable manner than the technologies for which they were substitutes".3 The demographic explosion and the increased needs it entails mean that these technologies must be introduced as soon as possible.

      To date, the Mediterranean countries have ruled out the use of nuclear energy. Given the predicted increase in energy demand, the installation of nuclear power-stations on the Mediterranean coastline cannot be ruled out. When the time comes, scientific studies into the possible effects of this energy source on the regional ecosystem will have to be carried out scrupulously.

Fighting sea and land-based pollution

      Sea pollution is one of the most important forms of pollution, because of the danger involved and extent of the problem. From the Strait of Gibraltar to the Bosphorus, hundreds of ships transport highly toxic or polluting cargoes every day. The slightest accident could have irreparable consequences for the equilibrium of the Mediterranean ecosystem.

      Pollution in harbours is another problem. It is mostly caused by discharge, bilge-water and tank-cleaning — by oil-tankers in particular. All harbours will have to be equipped, systematically, with ship-tank emptying facilities, and dredging activities and sluicing will have to be better monitored.

      Another form of sea pollution — underestimated for lack of knowledge — is that caused by the military manoeuvres regularly held in the Mediterranean.

      Wrecked ships and planes and missiles are not always retrieved from the sea. There is, in addition, nuclear pollution from the cooling-water used by nuclear-propelled vessels.

      The sea's ills are also — and perhaps above all — caused on land. Town planning needs to be improved and cities must be provided with proper infrastructures. To this end, studies need to be conducted into ways of changing town planning so that urban sprawl can be better managed.

      If industry made more rational use of resources and treated its waste more ecologically and if agriculture made more reasonable use of pesticides and fertilisers, it would be a step in the right direction. If agriculture is to become more ecological, more should be invested in the genetic engineering of plants and other biotechnologies. These could help to immunise plants against insects and make them more disease-resistant.

      One way of improving control of all these forms of pollution would be to catalogue them by means of a systematic monitoring system along the whole coastline. The resulting information could be centralised by a sort of Mediterranean observatory.

3.2.       Technological co-operation in the field of the media and communication

      The idea of setting up a Mediterranean television service is not a new one but it needs to be given new impetus if it is to be successful. This type of medium will play a major role in the inculcating of a genuine Mediterranean conscience. It could become the main instrument for launching a host of information and awareness-raising campaigns about specific problems of the Mediterranean basin. It would also be a very important means of learning about other cultures living on the Mediterranean rim, such as those about which people often hold prejudices.

      In terms of telecommunications, the countries lying to the south and east of the Mediterranean are, generally speaking, a huge potential market. This means that there are many opportunities for technical co-operation with the West.

3.3.       Scientific co-operation in the field of training and education

      In the book "Enjeux méditerranéens",4 Chedly Ayari describes inadequacy, if not the outright lack, of schooling and funds suffered by Arab countries around the Mediterranean in comparison with western or non-Arab eastern Mediterranean countries. Since, according to the author, university education will always be one of the main sources of economic, social and cultural progress, the level of education in general — and university education in particular — must be urgently improved. The main ways of improving education are:

      —to       increase the number of partnerships between universities in the western countries of the Mediterranean and the Arab countries,—

      —to       foster exchanges of teaching staff and researchers so that scientific knowledge is more widely spread. European universities could devise training programmes for Arab researchers, taking into account their economic needs,—

      —to       set up a Mediterranean university as a meeting-point for the three great cultures and religions, as a way of initiating genuine co-operation between Europeans, Jews and Arabs in all scientific areas of common interest to the Mediterranean.3.

3.4.       Scientific co-operation in the field of the social sciences

      Intolerance, xenophobia, racial attacks etc., are all phenomena which have for some time concerned politicians in all European countries. In Germany there are almost daily reports of racist attacks directed at Turkish or North African immigrants. Scientific studies have been conducted and used as a basis for national and international initiatives, such as that referred to in the Final Declaration of the Vienna Summit.

      Religious radicalism has for some years been gaining ground in Islamic countries. It can be seen in attacks and murders which are increasingly aimed at western tourists or foreign nationals. The phenomenon has so far been combated with equally bloody repression.

      Further co-operation in the field of social sciences (sociology, political psychology etc.) and exchanges of information between researchers on both sides and the pooling of experiences might foster a more complete and measured approach to these very complex problems.

4.       Conclusions

      Whether one considers the control of the different sorts of pollution, natural disasters (caused by humans or not), the contrasting demographic trends on either side of the Mediterranean, migration towards the cities and Europe, foreign debt, unemployment, poverty, disease, the radicalisation of politics, the cultural dialogue between the various communities, safeguarding the cultural heritage or the need to develop transport and communication infrastructures, the weaknesses to be found in the countries to the south and east and even some regions to the north of the Mediterranean are of a structural kind.

      The responses, too, should be structural. Without scientific and technological support they will not be, as scientific and technological research is now the essential condition for genuine economic progress and human well-being. The challenge of the twenty-first century is to achieve environmentally sustainable economic and social growth.

      This means aiming for integrated management of the Mediterranean, which requires a strengthening of human capacities, including the capacity to see to the widespread and rapid dissemination of science and technology. These must be the bases of a new policy for co-operation in the Mediterranean basin. This policy must take the form of a partnership and not a policy of assistance by the rich to the less developed countries.

      All these proposals will require a considerable financial effort. "Agenda 21" of the Rio Declaration, "Action 21" emphasises the need for the developed countries to make financial contributions. The aim is that they should reach, as soon as possible, the level of 0,7% of their GNP. The stakes are too high for trifling matters of money to jeopardise the living standards of future generations.

      In other words, the requirements are sufficient financial resources, political will, a collective awareness, a legal framework, energetic administrations and an international climate in favour of co-operation. In fact, "(...) there are invariably both favourable and unfavourable factors together. Whether it be in Europe or in the countries on the southern shore of the Mediterranean, it is the same thing — everything is moving, everything is changing. Will we have the clear-sightedness to find solutions to all these problems?"5

APPENDIX

The network of European specialised centres in the framework of the

EUR-OPA Major Hazards Agreement of the Council of Europe

European Centre for Disaster Medicine (CEMEC) (San Marino)

      The CEMEC specialises in developing medical care arrangements for major emergencies.

European University Centre for the Cultural Heritage (CUEBC) (Ravello — Italy)

      The CUEBC organises training and research in the field of the application of present-day science and technology — as well as methodological innovations — to the conservation of the cultural heritage.

European Training Centre for Natural Disasters (AFEM) (Ankara — Turkey)

      This centre trains technicians, administrators and instructors for disaster situations.

European Centre for Geodynamic and Morphodynamic Hazards (ECGDH) (Strasbourg — France)

      This centre is pinpointing as a matter of urgency the parameters of major earthquakes occurring in the Europe/Mediterranean region, and gathering and disseminating information for potential users; it has also developed a parametric database on earthquakes.

European Centre of Geodynamics and Seismology (ECGS) (Luxembourg)

      This centre's aim is to promote research and training programmes in geodynamics.

European Centre on the Prevention and Forecasting of Earthquakes (ECPFE) (Athens — Greece)

      The ECPFE deals with earthquake prediction, casualty limitation and public information.

European Mediterranean Centre on Marine Contamination Hazards (Valletta — Malta)

      The general aim of this centre is to assist coastal states in improving their capabilities in the assessment, prevention, monitoring and control of major marine contamination hazards.

European Centre for Information to the Public in the Event of a Disaster (CEISE) (Madrid — Spain)

      The centre's role is to conduct psycho-sociological research into public behaviour and attitude changes in the event of disasters, essentially through the study and analysis of actual cases in Spain and other countries.

European Oceanology Observatory: major diaster prediction and environment regeneration (OOE) (Monaco)

      The observatory offers facilities to research teams and workers of various nationalities wishing to carry out studies relating to major risk prediction and the regeneration of damaged areas.

European Centre for Non-Linear Dynamics and the Theory of Seismic Risks (ECNT) (Moscow — Russia)

      The main objective of this centre is to improve theoretical understanding of seismic risks.

European Centre on the Legislative Aspects of Disasters (Florival — Belgium)

      This research and documentation centre examines the juridical and legislative aspects of contingency planning and provides the relevant training and information.

European Centre on Major and Industrial Disasters (Aveiro — Portugal)

*

* *

      Reporting committee: Committee on the Environment, Regional Planning and Local Authorities (Doc. 7153).

      Reference to committee: Doc. 6894 and Reference No. 1891 of 3 September 1994.

      This contribution was approved by the Committee on Science and Technology on 12 September 1994.


1 1The AVICENNE programme (being prepared) of the European Commission concentrates on the issues of water management, health care and renewable energy. It concerns Algeria, Cyprus, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Malta, Syria, Turkey and the Occupied Territories. A draft budget for 1994 of around 5 million ecu is being considered.

2 1In "Agenda 21" Chapter 34: Transfer of environmentally sound technology, co-operation and capacity-building, p. 252, Rio Declaration on the Environment and Development, United Nations, New York, 1993.

3 2Ibid.

4 1"Enjeux méditerranéens. Pour une coopération Euro-Arabe" (Mediterranean challenges. For Euro-Arab co-operation). Chedly Ayari (1992).

5 1Closing speech by Mrs Catherine Lalumière, former Secretary General of the Council of Europe, at the International Symposium on Transmediterranean Interdependence and Partnership (Rome, 17-19 January 1994).