Rabat, Dec 10 --- In a joint press conference organized this afternoon by the organizers of the Forum for the Future, Nabil Benabdellah, minister of Communication and Spokesman of the government, Youssef Amrani, General Director of Bilateral Relations at the Moroccan Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Alan Larson, US under Secretary of State for Economic, Business, and Agricultural Affairs, all agreed that the region is in a crying need for reforms, and that these should come from within the region itself and not being imposed from outside.
Nabil Benabdellah, Minister of Communication and Spokesman of the government expressed today Morocco's pleasure to host the Forum for the Future. He said that organizing a meeting like this in Morocco “is not a novelty”.
“Morocco has always been a land for cultural diversity, tolerance, and dialogue for many issues that concern the international community,” said Benabdellah in a press conference held at the press centre of the Ministry of Interior in Rabat.
He added that experts in today's close meeting came to common conclusions concerning the most important issues related to the BMENA region.
“Today's meeting indicates that this Forum will be a great success,” added Benabdellah, stating that all parties agreed reforms in the Arab world should particularly come from within the people of the region themselves, and not be imposed from outside.
As far as the countries that apologized for attending the proceedings of this Forum, Benabdellah confirmed that all accepted to participate, except some for their own reasons that have nothing to do with the initiative itself.
“The question of Sudan is different. The organizers did not agree with the representation of Sudan in this meeting, because this is a meeting between partners from the G8 and the BMENA region. So the problem of Sudan won't be discussed in the meeting,” said Benabdellah. “Iran, too, apologized for its own reasons,” added Benabdellah.
The question of whether Israel was represented or not was among many issues that aroused journalists' interests. Benabdellah denied the fact that Morocco was under pressure to reject the representation of Israel in this forum.
“There has been no pressure on Morocco on this issue. Instead, why not say that it is Morocco who has put pressure on other countries to reject the participation of Israel in this forum,” said Benabdellah.
The reaction of civil society towards the Forum for the Future was also part of the discussion undertaken here.
“The protests of the Moroccan civil society against this Forum are to be considered in our agenda in this meeting. Morocco is a free and democratic country. Moroccans are free to express their views,” added Benabdellah.
In the second press conference, Alan Larson, US Under Secretary of State for Economic, Business, and Agricultural Affairs, said that “the main objective of this forum is to support initiatives from within the Arab region, help create an atmosphere of stability, and take the necessary steps lay the basis for a better and prosperous future for the people of the Middle East and North Africa.
In turn, Youssef Amrani, General Director of Bilateral Relations at the Moroccan Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that “the forum is a space of dialogue of ideas and exchange of experiences. It is not an internal organization to implement resolutions; it is open and nothing will be imposed.”
The Ambassador added that several participant states have prepared initiatives to discuss at the meeting in Rabat. These include a Literacy Initiative prepared by Algeria and Afghanistan, Investment Task Force prepared by Jordan, a Financial Network Programme prepared by Bahrain, a Democracy Assistance Initiative prepared by Turkey and Yemen, a Microfinance Initiative prepared by Jordan and Yemen, and an Entrepreneurship Training Program prepared by Morocco and Bahrain.
Larson noted that many countries in the region are already engaged in a series of reform projects in partnership with the G8 countries. He said that “the forum will provide the countries with a framework to study their different experiences and discuss the kinds of initiatives that may be effective for their own particular situations.”