Bound to Cooperate - Europe and the Middle East
At the turn of the century, Europe and the Middle East look like an odd couple. Their common historical experiences, geographical proximity, and economic interdependencies would deem it essential to develop closer political and economic relations. Yet, the two regions have rarely developed institutionalized forms of interaction on which more intensive relations could be based. The reasons for this are manifold: colonial history, nationalism, regionalism, and identity being only some of them. However, will the two regions be able to intensify their relations in the wake of the global transformation taking place? Will they be even ready to develop some modest forms of integration in order to be better equipped to meet the challenges of globalisation?
Developing a broad strategic vision for cross-regional interaction is one thing, identifying solutions for contemporary political and economic problems quite another. The Middle East peace process has yet to achieve broad Arab-Israeli reconciliation. Economic interaction is still limited, or at least one-sided. Comparatively few European companies enter the markets of the Middle East. Only a friction of European exports are bound to go to this region. Political systems on the state as well as regional levels differ substantially as do political value systems. Migration causes fears and suspicions, but not intercultural curiosity. The list of obstacles to intensify cross-regional affairs could be lengthened in extenso; however, on the one hand one has to identify them, but on the other one has to develop workable options to solving them.
For that reason, the Bertelsmann Foundation and the Bertelsmann Group on Policy Research at the Center for Applied Policy Research of the University of Munich initiated the project 'Europe and the Middle East' in 1994. Since then the project has pursued several strategic objectives. It has developed options and strategies for strengthening Euro-Middle Eastern political, economic, and social relations. It has sought to overcome the structural communication and information deficits among as well as within the two regions and tried to serve as a political ice breaker where formal diplomacy failed. It has sought to bridge the gap between the world of academic knowledge development and the world of decision making in politics and business. The project therefore has developed options and strategies of regional and cross-regional cooperation on the basis of sound academic analysis with the support of an international network of political scientists and economists. This volume reproduces their insight in the form of a collection of selected papers produced for the project.
Introduction (Sven Behrendt)