(AGI) Rome, Sept 9 - Europe is at a crossroads, and if it wishes to survive it must open its borders to the southern Mediterranean shore, making a special effort to allow young people to meet and exchange ideas, through coordinated mobility measures with a view to press ahead with intercultural dialogue, which is now more vital than ever. The comment was made by former French Foreign Minister and current Chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the French National Assembly, Elisabeth Guigou. She is also the president of the Anna Lindh Foundation, an organisation operating in 43 countries through a network of 5,000 civil society bodies. "The best way to revitalise the European project, threatened by xenophobia, populism and the resurgence of nationalism, is for Europe to turn to its neighbours and the outside world," Ms Guigou told AGI on her way to Museo della Pace in Naples to receive the "Premio Mediterraneo Istituzioni" (The Mediterranean Award for Institutions).
"The European project was successful in the 20th century because it gave an answer to the fears and needs of that period: war, refusing dictatorships, and the desire for prosperity. A goal that was largely achieved. Today, fears come from the outside and must be answered," she said, warning that this will not be possible "if Europe continues to be inward looking, mired in its internal struggles". Ms Guigou added: "I believe that to solve many of today's problems and relaunch the very meaning of its founding project, Europe must open itself up. Its future depends on its southern neighbours in particular." Young people are the driving force of change and they are central to the Anna Lindh Foundation's activities, focused on sharing the values that the Mediterranean stands for and make all its people one. "Intercultural dialogue is of the essence" and must resort to "all available tools", traditional as well as technological, especially "social networks", Ms Guigou noted. She went on to say that "civil society and its associations must get involved and play a role in this debate", as the Foundation is doing through its vast network of five thousand associations, since mobility must not be stopped by closing doors but rather managed, while still firmly upholding security. It is along these lines that Ms Guigou submitted her proposal to expand educational projects and establish a "Euro-Mediterranean Erasmus Programme", open not only to students but to all hard-working young people. "I'm convinced that authorities should create 'talent passports'. We can't let Europe shut itself away and become a fortress, indifferent to the tragic events in the Mediterranean." (AGI). .