VALLETTA, Oct. 22 (Xinhua) -- The role of intercultural dialogue in facing crucial current global issues is the main theme to be discussed at the 2016 Mediterranean Forum to be held here from Oct. 23 to 25.
Around 1,000 civil society leaders, policy-makers, parliamentarians and high officials from the United Nations, the European Union, the Arab League and the 42 members of the Union for the Mediterranean (UfM) will be participating in the Forum.
Co-organised by the Anna Lindh Foundation and Malta's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, MED FORUM 2016 will conclude an eight-month process of meetings held in UfM countries discussing different aspects of intercultural dialogue.
Established in 2005 and co-financed by the 42 countries of the Union for the Mediterranean and the European Commission, the Anna Lindh Foundation is dedicated to the promotion of mutual respect between cultures and to support civil society, through its network of more than 4,500 member associations, in working for a common future for the Mediterranean region.
Throughout the ages, the Mediterranean has been a sea that divides and a sea that unites.
MED FORUM 2016 acquires greater significance in view of the joint effort required to counter those forces in the region that are fuelling polarisation and extremism.
Other common challenges faced by Mediterranean states include the current refugee crisis, youth unemployment and climate change. These and other issues have been discussed in the preparatory meetings with the aim of identifying a cultural roadmap that leads towards the creation of a common space of peace, stability and economic prosperity in the Mediterranean that is beneficial towards all the peoples in the region.
The 2016 Forum is being held in Valletta both in view of the fact that the Maltese Islands are seen by many as a symbolic bridge between Europe and the Southern Mediterranean region and because Malta will be assuming the EU Presidency, during the first semester of 2017. During its presidency, Malta intends to put Mediterranean dialogue as one of the main items of the European Union's political agenda.
MED FORUM 2016 will focus on revitalising intercultural dialogue as a key factor in the European Union's Neighbourhood Policy, considering such dialogue as essential also in tackling terrorism and preventing radicalisation.
Research conducted by the Anna Lindh Foundation in the region brings to the fore a number of common values shared by the silent majority of citizens to the north and south of the Mediterranean and the desire to challenge radicalisation since the majority of youth who are not attracted to violence.
The forum participants will also discuss unprecedented human movements in the region as well as the impact of the current refugee crisis has on the region's societies. This necessarily involves the identification of the root causes of such crises and their resolution through the peaceful resolution of conflicts and investment to promote social and economic development.