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Brussels, 25 June 2013
President Barroso meets the Secretary General of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), Mr Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu
Today President José Manuel Barroso met the Secretary General of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), Mr Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu. In today's meeting they looked at how to improve cooperation between the two organisations. President Barroso welcomed the opening of a new Permanent Observer Mission of the OIC in Brussels which will certainly contribute to a more regular dialogue, increased cooperation and deeper relationship.
The discussion also focused on the Arab awakening and on security challenges in the whole region, from Syria to the Sahel. Both leaders concurred that political polarisation and huge economic and social needs have to be addressed to prevent instability from growing.
President Barroso explained the EU engagement in the Middle East and North African countries through its Partnership for Democracy and Shared Prosperity, whose aim is to support political and economic transition reforms. Respect for democracy, rule of law and fundamental freedoms, including freedom of religion or belief, are key for the success of democratic transformation. The EU has mobilised significant additional resources in grants (around €500M in new grants in 2011-2013 through the SPRING programme) and loans, and has set up Task Forces (with Tunisia, Jordan and Egypt) to facilitate coordinated action for investment in the respective countries.
Regarding Syria, President Barroso said that only a political solution can ensure a stable, inclusive and democratic Syria. The EU strongly supports the joint US-Russia call for a peace conference on Syria in Geneva. The EU is currently the main donor with €900 million committed both in Syria and neighbouring countries in response to the crisis. Recently an additional 400 million were announced by President Barroso to address the appalling humanitarian situation.