Democratizing Neighbours

Hamid Alkifaey

Countries around the Mediterranean are EU neighbours, their stability and welfare are pertinent to the stability and prosperity of the EU. We have seen how the Syrian crisis has adversely affected EU security, economy and social cohesion with influx of thousands of refugees into EU states.Conflicts in Iraq, Libya and other Middle Eastern countries have left similar impacts on EU countries with thousands of refugees arriving at EU shores, while related heinous terrorist acts were perpetrated in EU cities such as Paris and Berlin, creating havoc and social discord which will take years to heal. What can the EU do to protect its people and enhance its stability and security? It's now time to act positively and find long term solutions to prevailing Middle Eastern problems. The stability of these countries will benefit EU countries economically and security wise, and relieve the EU from the security and refugee pressures which are caused directly by the instability and conflicts in the Middle East. One of the solutions is to help establish stable and modern political systems in the Middle East which can bring internal social accord and economic prosperity to the region. This can be done through political, economic and cultural engagement and dialogue, not military force. Another solution is economic aid to, and long-term investment in, these countries to enable them to feed their populations and also give them their basic human rights which they have longed for, for too long. The EU is not immune from conflicts and crises taking place at its door step. A policy of positive engagement with the Middle East, politically, economically and culturally, is urgently needed to stabilize the area. This policy will automatically benefit the EU in terms of security, and at the same time, stop the human suffering around it.

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