Secretary General of the Union for the Mediterranean resigns

The Secretary General for the Union for the Mediterranean Ahmad Masa’deh decided to step down as in his words, “the general conditions against which he accepted to assume the job have changed”. This statement can be interpreted as his way of denouncing how the Israeli-Palestine conflict is practically paralysing the work of the UfM.

CNA / Maria Fernández

January 27, 2011 12:40 PM

Barcelona (ACN).- The Secretary General of the Union for the Mediterranean Ahmad Masa’deh resigned today. In a press release from Tuesday, the Jordan diplomat Dr. Masa’deh justified his decision by saying that the “conditions against which he accepted to assume the job have changed”. Dr. Masa’deh “wished the process [UfM] all the success”. However, it is not a secret that the Union for the Mediterranean is, its early stage, far away from having reached its initial objectives. The conflict between Israel and Palestine has been putting constant obstacles on the organisation and hindering the realisation of their first projects. Examples of this are the delay approving the Secretariat’s statutes and the cancellation of summits and ministerial meetings. Dr. Masa’deh states in the press release that he has “accomplished establishing the Secretariat, making it visible, and producing a high-level professional vision for its operation”. Dr. Masa’deh took office a year ago.

In the press release, Dr. Masa’deh insists that he “wishes this process [the UfM] all the success”. He “will continue to be a strong supporter for a professionally sound and politically empowered Secretariat and a loud voice for cooperation in the Mediterranean that is based on true equilibrium and clear orientation, and that is capable of delivering concrete and tangible benefits to the people of the region”.

Ahmad Khalaf Masa’deh (Jordan, 1969) was appointed Secretary General of the UfM on the 12th of January 2010. Before that, he was the Jordan Ambassador to the European Union and the NATO. In an interview with CNA a few months ago he said “I am not worried about the structure’s size but about ensuring that UfM offers the idea we want to show”. Masa’deh’s appointment came a year and a half after the supposed relaunch of the Euro-Mediterranean process announced and lead by the French President, Nicolas Sarkozy, in July 2008. The UFM secretariat has its official seat and headquarters in Barcelona, at the Palau de Pedralbes.

A difficult year

The UfM work has been generally slow so far and without results. To be fair, it has not really been able to start working at speed, mainly because of the Arab-Israeli conflict. Political discussion on this never-ending conflict paralysed concrete projects on water sanitation and energy in the entire Maghreb region, among other project areas. For instance, the Euro-Mediterranean Summit has been twice postponed: once in June and the second time in November; this last time indefinitely.

Meanwhile only 20 staff members were based in the UfM Secretariat’s headquarter offices in September. After months of silence, Dr. Masa’deh held press contacts at the end of November and early December with several media, CNA included. At that time, Dr. Masa’deh was already sending a warning “the UfM cannot work without Member States’ commitment”. Then, Masa’deh was waging to have the UfM focused on working on technical projects, leaving politics aside. But two months later, he is stepping down.