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5+5 SMHES brief

On Monday, May 10th, the FMES institute organized a Mediterranean strategic rencontre with young leaders from the 5+5 countries. After a first meeting organised in January 11th, it was a new opportunity for young graduates of 5+5 countries from the North and the South to share their geopolitical views in a fast-changing world. As it was scheduled, we have made the choice to have a parity of students between civilians and militaries. For this first 5+5 SMHES, military students belonged to the naval academies of the two shores. This webinar was the alternative option due to the health constraints which did not allow a physical rendez-vous for one week at Toulon. Our next goal is to renew this experience each year on both sides of our common Mediterranean area. 

The introduction of this seminar was made by M. Rostane Medhi, director of Science Po Aix. It was very interesting for all regarding his huge knowledge of the Mediterranean basin with a global approach involving history, cultural and societal elements.  At this occasion he set out the major strategic issues of the Mediterranean.  He explained very precisely the main consequences of the recent revolutionary period within the southern shore which probably did not give all what the Arab people expected. Excepting for Tunisia, we may consider the failure of these movements almost everywhere. Then, Rostane Medhi gave his view upon the expression of power in a sensitive area. Of course, Turkey plays a key role today in the region and is probably a regional power which must be taken into account in a wide range of countries or organizations including the European union and NATO. Later, he explained the visible return of Russia in the Mediterranean diplomatically affairs as well as the Chinese irruption in the region that might be a game changer in the influence of powers. The 5+5 participants did not hesitate to give their own opinions on these different issues and they put forward some possible projects between the Mediterranean States.

In that exchange, it was also the opportunity to present some key points regarding technology issues to the participants. At Toulon, a presentation on technology transfer by Naval Group was a way to share some cooperation fields as it was shown by M. Xavier Caux, a sales manager of Naval group.  In the discussion, a focus was made especially in the field of maritime security and surveillance. We are aware about the importance to control state borders to avoid illegal trafficking and terrorism actions. In these fields, many cooperation between the two shores could be possible and several contracts still exist between Naval Group and some Mediterranean countries.

To face illegal trafficking or immigration and to respond from a global security approach, it was interesting to understand some ways of action driven by the European union. Rear-admiral Jean-Christophe Martinet, deputy commander of EUNAVFOR IRINI operation, was welcomed to this meeting. He explained the involvement of 24 members regarding maritime security in the Mediterranean area. The 5+5 participants have a better understanding of the main goals of this operation even if some questions remain.

This webinar was an amazing opportunity to talk together. The participants gave their own opinions without any institutional framework. This framework enables a fruitful dialogue aimed at addressing a common response by the future generation. It is truly a very positive initiative which will be renew in the 2021-22 academic year.