COMECE meets with EU Commissioner Várhelyi: “the Mediterranean as a place of peaceful encounters”

A COMECE delegation met with Mr. Olivér Várhelyi, EU Commissioner for Neighbourhood and Enlargement, on Monday 18 January 2021, to offer policy recommendations on a people-centred and fair future Southern Partnership. The document presented to the EU Commissioner was elaborated by COMECE in dialogue with local Church authorities.

Screenshot of the event. (Credit: COMECE)

Last year, on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the Union for the Mediterranean, the EU announced the renewal of its partnership with the ten countries at EU’s Southern borders in early 2021.

“We welcome the efforts of the European Union to help to create stability, peace and prosperity in the Southern Neighbourhood”, stated H. Em. Card. Jean-Claude Hollerich SJ, President of COMECE, during the meeting with EU Commissioner Várhelyi, while calling for “EU policy responses rooted in the Union’s fundamental values and fully respectful of the human dignity and rights of every person, including migrants and refugees”.

Being confronted with manifold peace, socio-economic, human rights and ecological challenges, the Mediterranean region should – as COMECE emphasised – become again a place of peaceful encounters of persons of different cultures and religions.

“The EU should support a culture of encounter in its Southern Neighbourhood and contribute to fostering peace through education, dialogue, trust-building and respect for the socio-cultural and religious diversity, while promoting the concept of equal and full citizenship”, stressed H.E. Mgr. Youssef Soueif, Archbishop of Tripoli of the Maronites (Lebanon).

The delegation also highlighted the active engagement of local Churches in Lebanon and other countries of the Southern Neighbourhood, in humanitarian efforts and expressed readiness to partner with the EU on addressing the needs of the people, including in healthcare and education.

The COMECE document presented by Card. Hollerich and Mgr. Soueif to EU Commissioner Várhelyi contains more than 30 policy proposals in five priority areas – Migration, Peace, Religious Freedom, Human Development and Integral Ecology – and can be downloaded here.