Madam Commissioner, Dear Androulla VASSILIOU, Ladies and Gentlemen Ministers, Mr President of the Permanent Conference of the Mediterranean Audiovisual, Dear Emmanuel HOOG, Madam Secretary General of COPEAM, Dear Alessandra PARADISI,Ladies and Gentlemen, Directors and Chairmen of Broadcasters, Ladies and Gentlemen,Dear Friends

In recent years, we have been able to renew – in a new spirit – with an old dream, equipped with the will to make it come true: this dream is of course the Mediterranean dream, that of a «Mare Nostrum» of the 21st century, that of a community of destinies, I even want to say a community of desires between Europe, Africa and the Middle East. No doubt it was necessary that Europe had first completed its assembly after the fall of the Berlin Wall, so that it could, even more resolutely, turn its gaze to other horizons, throwing solid and lasting bridges to other shores, and thereby regain an essential dimension of its identity.
As you know, France was one of the initiators of this great project, carried out especially by the President of the Republic. The Paris Summit, on 13 July 2008, gave substance to this dream of a Union for the Mediterranean, and laid the first foundations for it.
On the eve of this founding summit, the Permanent Conference of the Mediterranean Audiovisual Industry launched an appeal to the Heads of State for the inclusion of the media in its declaration and for the structuring of a real Mediterranean audiovisual landscape.
This «Audiovisual Bet of the Mediterranean», we are winning it, and this is the ambitious goal of today’s meeting,
It is therefore a great pleasure for me, as well as a great honour, to welcome this 17th COPEAM Conference here in Paris, in this symbolic place of the National Library of France. We all place a lot of hope in it, because this is where an important part of our common future is being built.
Among the ten projects adopted by the last Cairo Annual Conference, four particularly ambitious projects caught my attention, because they are likely to structure the audiovisual, and more broadly cultural, Euro-Mediterranean edifice.
The first project consists in the creation of a Mediterranean television channel, a multinational and plurilingual channel, broadcasting throughout the Euro-Mediterranean territory. This chain will be the focal point, and ultimately the perfect mirror of this open Mediterranean that we are building together.
This ambitious project is now within our reach. It has received the full attention of ambassadors to the Union for the Mediterranean. The first «feasibility study», carried out by the presidency of COPEAM, shows that, from a technical, financial and editorial point of view, this channel is now possible.
Of course, it needs, in order to exist without delay, a broad mobilization of all the actors of the Mediterranean audiovisual, but also of political leaders. I will put all my energy so that we can give the Mediterranean a voice and faces in its image, that is, in the image of a community of desires and destinies fully assumed.
The second major project fully meets the educational objective of the Union for the Mediterranean. It is that of an audiovisual university of the Mediterranean. I welcome the desire to set up this network of universities and schools for audiovisual and film education, a first in the Mediterranean basin. Building on the dynamism of COPEAM, it is a matter of building a network of excellence, woven around meetings, exchanges of experience and training of audiovisual executives.
The first step will have to be made this year with the development of the University’s Internet platform, which will make it possible to animate the network of all partners, to put online distance teaching tools, and to make a digital resource centre available to everyone.
Step by step, stone by stone, this university will be able to be built and developed, for example through the establishment of seminars and summer universities, then by the creation of a common audiovisual master’s course.
COPEAM and the National Audiovisual Institute (INA) have all the expertise and recognition of their partners to carry out this project.
At a time when technological – but also cultural – changes are accelerating, we have understood that we can only build the future on the solid and living foundation of a shared memory. This is why the third project that brings us together concerns audiovisual memories of the Mediterranean, and aims to facilitate public access to archives. The most appropriate tool is obviously a website dedicated to the tangible and intangible heritage of Mediterranean countries.
We are not starting from scratch: the CAPMED project, led by the INA within the framework of the Euromed audiovisual programme, gives us a solid foundation. By safeguarding the most emblematic documents, CAPMED has made this invaluable audiovisual heritage available. It is a remarkable achievement that I salute.
It is now a matter of going further and allowing free access to many of these documents.
The stakes are considerable: the capacity of the Mediterranean countries to share their shared heritage, and to make all that brings us together appear better, without hiding the specificities of each, without reducing the diversity that is the strength of the Union for the Mediterranean.
The fourth major project of COPEAM that I would like to mention is that of strengthening our exchange of information through the EuroMed News project.
We owe this initiative to the European Commission. The objectives of EuroMed News are clear. These include:
promote Euro-Mediterranean partnerships and co-productions;
encourage the training of journalists in Euro-Mediterranean issues and facilitate the dissemination of news, while respecting the broadcaster’s editorial freedom;
inform the general public about the Euro-Mediterranean partnership;
and promoting cultural diversity and equality between men and women.
The presence of COPEAM in the consortium set up to achieve these objectives is clearly not only legitimate but necessary.
Other projects resulting from the Cairo Conference are of course supported by COPEAM, but the ones I have just outlined briefly in front of you are, I believe, those that best illustrate our ambition: strengthen intercultural dialogue between the two shores of the Mediterranean through this essential lever that is the audiovisual in all its aspects and in all its states.
Be assured, Madam Commissioner, Mr President and Madam Secretary General of the Standing Conference of the Mediterranean Audiovisual, that COPEAM will have the full support of France to carry out this «gamble», which is also ours, like this «Mare Nostrum» must become truly, fully ours, ours to all.
Thank you.