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Press Office

Athens, 4 June 2021

Topical regional issues discussed at 15th Plenary Session of Parliamentary Assembly of the Mediterranean

The work of the 15th Plenary Session of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Mediterranean (PAM) took place via teleconference on 3 and 4 June 2021. The Hellenic Parliament was represented by MPs Christos Kellas (New Democracy, Head of delegation), Maximos Senetakis (New Democracy) and Kostas Zachariadis (SYRIZA). 
The main issues that were discussed in the framework of the meetings of the three Standing Committees were the following: issues of security in the Mediterranean, addressing the terrorist threat, policies for economic recovery after the pandemic, climate and environmental changes in the Mediterranean, addressing domestic violence, protecting human rights in an increasingly digitalised world and the challenges posed by Artificial Intelligence (AI). 
Mr. Kellas, speaking about security issues in the Mediterranean, referred extensively to the systematic undermining of security by Turkey, which has been acting as a destabilising factor, fuelling conflicts and trying to rearrange geography and alter treaties it is a signatory to. The Head of the Greek delegation described how Greece is reacting to this behaviour, namely protecting its national sovereignty and calling on all countries to develop a mentality of dialogue, trust and cooperation in the entire region on the basis of international law. 
Referring to the Cyprus issue he stressed the need to relaunch substantive talks in the framework of the UN, which provides, in all of its decisions and resolutions, for a Bizonal, Bicommunal Federation as the only fair and viable solution. Furthermore, speaking about the New Pact on Migration and Asylum, he argues that it must serve a cohesive European policy with a fair allocation of responsibilities, pointing out that any effort by anyone to instrumentalise the migration isuue is unacceptable.
Lastly, he welcomed the ceasefire between Israel and Palestine, underlining the need for an international initiative towards a political solution, according to international law and the UN Security Council resolutions and called on all participating MPs to work to mitigate tensions and to create conditions of peaceful coexistence and economic growth throughout the region. 
Mr. Senetakis spoke on the subject of economic growth after the pandemic and said that the pandemic is showing the importance of cooperation between Mediterranean countries to achieve peace, stability and prosperity in the region. He noted that special emphasis must be given to particularly hard hit sectors, such as tourism, trade and investments. He briefly presented measures taken by Greece in this direction, spoke about the successful programme of mass vaccination of the population, the trilateral cooperation schemes between Greece and Mediterranean countries, through which the promotion of partnerships and synergies is sought, in order to improve competitiveness, encourage extroversion, know-how transfer and the good use of innovative ideas in the field of entrepreneurship. 
He emphasised the need for sustainable SMEs and that the Assembly’s existing cooperation with international organisations such as the OECD, the WTO and UNCTAD should be expanded to help find new ways to support SMEs and start-ups.  
He also noted that today in Greece there is a discussion under way on an important labour reform, which serves the above purposes and summed up by calling on all participants to spend their holidays in Greece, which is a safe country vis-à-vis the pandemic and a beautiful tourist destination.
Mr. Zachariadis spoke during the segment focusing on issues of human rights protection in an increasingly digitalised world, saying that the 4th industrial revolution – and the digital era that we are already in – shifts the balances we were familiar with and, therefore, democratic mobilisation and vigilance are required, so that the use of new technologies does not prove detrimental to citizen’s rights. In this vein, he mentioned the example of the danger of personal data breach that leads to the unlawful use of it by companies for competitive or commercial purposes. He stressed the need to legislate the proper legal strongholds, which must then be tied to traditional fundamental rights. 
He also stressed that everyone should have equal rights and access to the new digital age, emphasising the role that can be played by education and training in this direction. 
Furthermore, he noted that the use of new technologies and the related possibilities that arise for science can greatly contribute to better tackling climate change, a major challenge for all humanity. 
The work concluded with the election of a new Bureau for the next two years. Italian MP Gennaro Migliore was elected Chairman.
Parliaments of EU and MENA countries, as well as countries from the wider region of the Mediterranean participated in the Session. Besides the parliamentary delegations of member states, representatives of other international and regional organisations also attended.

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