PARIS (EJP)---Israeli Vice Prime Minister Shimon Peres has welcomed Nicolas Sarkozy’s declaration that a EU-like union could be formed in the Mediterranean as a "very interesting" suggestion.
In his victory speech Sunday night, the new French president made an appeal for a new union of the Mediterranean, which he seemed to envisage as bringing together Europe and Africa.
"I want to issue a call to all the people of the Mediterranean to tell them that it is in the Mediterranean that everything is going to be played out, that we have to overcome all kinds of hatred to pave the way for a great dream of peace and a great dream of civilization."
"I want to tell them that the time has come to build together a Mediterranean union that will form a link between Europe and Africa."
"What was done for the union of Europe 60 years ago, we are going to do today for the union of the Mediterranean," Sarkozy added.
"His pronouncement about a Middle East pact similar to the European Union is very interesting," Peres said. "ll friends of France should wish him success in his position.’’
Turkish solution ?
According to observers, Sarkozy’s Mediterranean Union idea offers a convenient alternative solution to the thorny Turkish issue.
Sarkozy has made clear his opposition to Turkish EU membership, a stance which has received popular support from the French electorate.
The Mediterranean Union envisaged by Sarkozy, modeled on the EU, would include Turkey as an alternative to a EU membership for this country.
Some say his proposal also amounted to an effort to reach out to the Muslims of North Africa, many of whom are the immigrants who live in the troubled suburbs of major French cities where Sarkozy is unpopular.
On immigration itself, he said that France and the Africans would work together to reach agreement.