The existence of a Euro-Mediterranean project, defined at the Barcelona Conference of 1995, and its development in the years since then, has helped to create a powerful culture of cooperation and dialogue between the European Union and its Mediterranean partners. Despite all the difficulties it has faced and the need to adapt it to new times, today the Barcelona Process is the most effective instrument of concerted action for peace, democracy and development amongst the countries of the area.
The events of recent years make it more important than ever to achieve a more meaningful Mediterranean dialogue and create a new basis for action and mutual knowledge. In this respect, initiatives such as this Mediterranean Yearbook, published by the European Institute of the Mediterranean (IEMed) and the Fundació CIDOB, are very timely, since they provide essential materials for information and analysis to all those involved in the process. Spain believes that the European Union needs to encourage an active policy on its southern borders, reaching out towards the Mediterranean and the Arab world. The hopes placed in the Barcelona Conference need to be rekindled, and Spain must contribute to relaunching the Barcelona Process with vigour and determination to show that multilateral dialogue is the best way of resolving conflicts, including that of the Near East, which is having such negative repercussions on Euro-Mediterranean politics as a whole.
So I welcome the initiative of publishing a Yearbook such as this, which provides key data for interpreting the principal political, economic, social and cultural processes shaping the area. And I would like to emphasise the valuable contribution made by more than a hundred experts, from a very wide range of political and cultural backgrounds, which has ensured the necessary pluralism in the perception and analysis of such a complex part of the world.