The fourth edition of the Middle East Mediterranean Summer Summit will take place, in Lugano from 21 to 28 August 2021, with the support of the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs of the Swiss Confederation. The third edition of the Summit in 2020 was a great success with its exceptional list of speakers, including the French President Emmanuel Macron who delivered a keynote speech on the importance of the region structured around four pillars: religion, demographics, energy, and politics, and Audrey Azoulay, Director-General of UNESCO, who underlined the importance of art, culture and education in the fight against inequalities as well as youth and women’s unemployment.
The Middle East Mediterranean region in the current context
2020 will be remembered as the year of the COVID-19 pandemic and the oil price collapse, and one which will have witnessed all sorts of unexpected turmoil, reaching from the Middle East Mediterranean region to the European suburbs. A fragmentation occurs in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. On the one hand, the Abraham Accords are signed, which include the United States, the United Arab Emirates, Morocco and Sudan, Israel, aggregating Egypt and Saudi Arabia, and with an eye on Iraq. On the other hand, the “Brother-Shia axis” brings together Gaza, Qatar, Turkey, and Iran with the ad-hoc support of Russia. In these seismic upheavals, Beirut explodes, refugees and illegal migrants flock to Europe; the Turkish president Erdogan tries to make Istanbul the global centre of Islam.
Then terrorism strikes again, in France and in Austria, in the name of a jihadism without organisation. It relies on an “atmosphere” created by “instigators” mobilising crowds and social networks in the Muslim world, to avenge their prophet against the West. Meanwhile, Biden is faced with the task of rebuilding the trust of America’s allies.
In 2021, the MEM Summer Summit will focus on these topics and will provide instruments for analysing the complexity of the Middle East Mediterranean region; and contextualising its current developments in global history, prompting a broader reflection on contemporary challenges. This ever-changing region has, in fact, a significant impact also on international dynamics, on Europe and its political structures.
Università della Svizzera italiana Lugano