Ambitious financial aid programe planned

Spain will relaunch the ‘Barcelona Process' which includes “very ambitious” instruments to provide financial aid to the southern Mediterranean countries when it holds the presidency of the European Union during the first half of 2002, foreign minister Josep Piqué announced yesterday. Piqué, who took part in the European Conference in Brussels, said that the project would mean a change in relations with the countries, and would be clearly seen as a very serious commitment to the area on the part of the European Union. He added that just as Europe is very interested in the stability of eastern European countries, there must also be a vital interest in the stability of the Mediterranean countries. Spain plans to advance on three fronts: seek forms of co-operation between police, judiciary and intelligence services; finalise agreements of association with each of the countries which forms part of the Barcelona Process, setting in motion ambitious ways of financing projects, and promoting cultural exchanges. The next meeting of the Barcelona Process will be held in Brussels in the first week of November. Pique also commented on the European Conference, and its message against terrorism. He said that 40 speeches reflected the unanimous nature of the fight against terrorism, the depth of solidarity with the United States and the defence of military action based on the right to legitimate defence established in the UN resolutions. Pique added that all those present stressed the need to show special sensitivity towards the Islamic world.

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