The Eastern Mediterranean region is characterized by great diversity in terms of political systems and culture, the level and pace of socio-economic development, and ethnic and religious makeup. At the same time, it is one of the most volatile and conflict-prone regions in the world. There are numerous ongoing inter- and intra-state conflicts, with many regional and world actors involved. The region suffers from various and complex security threats, such as religious extremism and radicalization, terrorism, mass migration, gender inequality, democratic deficit, and poverty. At the same time, however, some positive events have taken place. Recent hydrocarbon discoveries offshore Israel and Cyprus have potential to completely change the energy landscape of the energy-hungry region. In the ever-changing environment of the Eastern Mediterranean, the region is in an urgent need of leadership, dialogue and cooperation, as well as informed, correct and timely decision-making.
The East Med Forum (EMF) is an an electronic, online discussion forum, the purpose of which is to serve as a platform for the exchange of information and ideas, facilitate intraregional cross-border, cross-industry and cross-cultural dialogue, which aims at creating a framework for regional cooperation.
The EMF addresses three broad focus areas:
Regional Security: Multilevel, multifaceted interstate cooperation is the most effective way of preventive diplomacy, trust-building and tackling transnational common security challenges. So far, the Eastern Mediterranean order has been shaped by a number of regional and external actors. Smaller states, like Cyprus or Israel, have been forced to rely on their mighty protectors, whose actions more often than not are motivated by self-interest, rather than genuine concern about their partners, or the region as a whole. The states of the region should therefore join forces in order to stand firmly on their own feet, and increase intraregional capabilities to respond to numerous common security challenges, such as inter-state conflicts, religious extremism and radicalization, mass migration, refugee crises, poverty, and others. An institutional framework for inter-state collaboration would enable regional actors and stakeholders representing different layers of societies to create an impact on developments.
Democracy and the Rule of Law: Upholding and promoting democracy and the rule of law is a crucial regional objective. Ethics and democracy are in short supply in the region. Democracies in the Eastern Mediterranean are facing an array of existential threats to their stability, safety and survival, stemming from totalitarian ideologies which use violent or non-violent means to achieve political ends at completely odds with the principles of democracy. It is essential for the handful of democracies situated in the Eastern Mediterranean to co-operate with the view of defending and spreading the principles of ethics and democracy.
Energy: Releasing untapped economic potential of the Eastern Mediterranean as a top priority for overall development of the region. Recent hydrocarbons discoveries offshore Cyprus and Israel have started to significantly reshape regional dynamics. The energy findings have created a major opportunity for the power-hungry Eastern Mediterranean and its adjacent markets. Energy resources have the potential to either further fuel existing conflicts, or become a catalyst for cooperation, thus providing intraregional sources of energy, increasing economic development, and ultimately transform the geopolitics of the entire region. Acknowledging this potential, Egypt, Israel, Cyprus and Greece have already begun strengthening relations in a number of areas such as joint exploration of hydrocarbons, search and rescue naval operations, the sharing of technology, and trade of goods and services. ERPIC is hoping to contribute to these developments by initiating and developing regional cooperation on a civil society level.