The fourth and final Inter-Parliamentary Conference on Security and Cooperation in the Mediterranean (CSCM) was held in Nafplion, Greece, on February 6 and 7 under the aegis of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU).

A delegation composed of MPs Michael Gonzi and George Vella, Ambassador Alfred Zarb, from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and Joe Mangion, diplomatic officer at the Speaker's Secretariat, participated in the conference.

The president of the Greek Parliament, Anna Benaki-Psaroudai, attended the opening ceremony held in the seat of the first Parliament of modern Greece.

The fourth CSCM had, as its main objective, the institutionalisation and transformation of the CSCM process into a Parliamentary Assembly of the Mediterranean. The conference adopted the statutes of the Parliamentary Assembly that will hold its inaugural session in Jordan in the second half of this year.

Fifteen years ago, the IPU decided to set up a special parliamentary mechanism for promoting security and cooperation in the Mediterranean region. In fact, the Inter-Parliamentary Conference on Security and Cooperation in the Mediterranean was launched at its first meeting in Malaga, Spain, in 1992. This was followed by two other conferences, the II CSCM held in Valletta in 1995 and the III CSCM held in Marseilles, France ,in 2000.

During his address to the conference, Dr Gonzi, head of the Maltese delegation, described 2005 as a promising year for the Mediterranean in view of the developments taking place. He augured that the end of the fourth CSCM becomes in itself the start of a new challenging and exciting era in inter-parliamentary relations that will bring together all the countries bordering the rims of the Mediterranean.

Dr Gonzi stressed the Maltese delegation's decisive role in setting up the Parliamentary Assembly. He also reiterated Malta's wish to host the assembly's secretariat for which a "prestigious" building has already been allocated by the Maltese government.

IPU secretary general Anders Johnsson singled out, on more than one occasion, the Maltese delegation for its continuous drive towards the establishment of the Parliamentary Assembly. He praised the Maltese delegation for its tenacious stand and said that all participants should recognise the Maltese delegation's role in bringing this project to fruition.


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