FES and POMED on multilateralism in the Middle East

June 30, 2010, 12:46 p.m.

The international community has invested heavily in political reform in the Middle East. The largely unilateral efforts of the past to initiate changes, however, have been on a whole unsuccessful. Which players have the highest stakes in the region, and how could multilateralism reconcile differences in policy? A workshop hosted by the Friedrick Ebert Stiftung and the Project on Middle Eastern Democracy was created to discuss these issues in depth, with 20 experts from Europe, the Middle East and the United States. A joint-POMED and FES report was recently released to detail the findings of the conference.

"A crucial step for revitalizing American support for political reforms in the Middle East is to recognize Europe’s interest in and ability to constructively support Middle East reform and to engage European leaders in a dialogue on these issues. Due to its geographic proximity to the region, Europe confronts such challenges as economic migration and domestic Islamist extremism more directly than the United States. These issues have led the European Union to prioritize economic engagement in hopes of it leading to Middle East political reform. Europe also has a different self-conception of its foreign policy toolkit. Whereas the United States remains the world’s sole military superpower, Europe has arguably been far more effective than the United States in employing soft power and economic might in its international relations – particularly in the Middle East. A successful new American effort to promote Middle Eastern reforms must recognize these differences while seeking to leverage European strengths."

The full report can be seen here.

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