14/05/2014

Peretz: Economic Activity in Mediterranean Can Be Lever for Cooperation
 
 
Depollution of the Mediterranean Sea, climate change, and Sustainable Consumption and Production were the main topics of discussion at the Union for the Mediterranean’s Ministerial Meeting on Environment and Climate Change, on Tuesday, May 13, 2014. Environmental Protection Minister Amir Peretz was one of some 40 ministers and senior officials who took part in the conference, which took place in Athens, Greece. Other participants included the Jordanian environment minister and representatives from the Palestinian Authority, Lebanon, Egypt, and Turkey.

Min. Peretz with his Greek and Cypriot counterparts Photo: MoEP

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Peretz: Economic Activity in Mediterranean Can Be Lever for Cooperation
Min. Peretz with his Greek and Cypriot counterparts
Photo: MoEP

The UfM, formerly known as the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership, is a regional initiative between the European Union and 12 Mediterranean countries, including Israel, largely aimed at depollution of the Mediterranean Sea. It is based on the concepts of political dialogue, development of economic and financial cooperation, and emphasis on social, cultural, and human dimension.

During the meeting, Peretz and the environment ministers of Greece and Cyprus agreed on a Declaration of Intent, to preceed the signing of a tripartite agreement on environmental cooperation next month. The environmental cooperation will focus on prevention of pollution in the Mediterranean as a result of economic activities and natural gas drilling. One of the goals is the establishment of a joint force to protect against, and/or deal with, environmental marine crises such as oil spills.

During a discussion on Mediterranean pollution at the conference, Peretz explained why Israel must work with its neighbors. "As someone who believes in peace I am disappointed by the current crisis in terms of talks with the Palestinians. Our real test is to find solutions, and not to lay blame. We share a sea, and our neighbors will remain our neighbors. Therefore we must find a way to live together, country beside country. Establishment of a Palestinian country is not just in the interest of Israel and the Palestinians; it is also in the interest of all countries taking part in this conference. It is up to the countries in this region to unite so that our extensive economic activities in the Mediterranean region will become a lever for cooperation aimed at peace and environmental benefits."

Jordanian Environment Minister Dr. Taher al Shakhshi welcomed Peretz’s comments, and reinforced the idea that peace and regional cooperation are necessary, as well as the idea of two States for two Peoples.