Centre for Dialogue, La Trobe University, Melbourne & European Public Law Organisation, Athens.
EPLO Conference Centre, Sounio, Greece
A year-long project involving extensive research and discussions in the Middle East and Europe, and an intensive two-day Dialogue which took place last November in Athens/Sounion, Greece.
Details of the project are available in a report written in four languages (English, Hebrew, Farsi and Arabic). The report carries a foreword by Judge Christopher Weeramantry, former Vice-President of the International Court of Justice.
The Athens Dialogue brought together Israeli, Palestinian, Arab, Iranian and other Middle Eastern civil society leaders, former diplomats, and some diplomatic representatives.
Proposals emerging out of the Dialogue included the establishment of a UN Regional Centre for Peace and Security to match similar centres in other conflict-prone regions of the world, new confidence-building measures to promote Middle East denuclearisation, new regional structures to pursue such denuclearisation, and new civil society initiatives to encourage Middle Eastern governments to pursue negotiations.
The most important development immediately following the Athens Dialogue was the US Department of State announcement that the Helsinki Conference would not be convened as previously envisaged in December 2012.
The postponement of the Helsinki Conference indicates difficulties ahead. Nevertheless, Finland as the host country, the Europeans, the Russians, the UN Secretary-General and even the United States remained committed to the staging of such a conference.
The Centre for Dialogue and the European Public Law Organisation were encouraged by this first attempt at a regional dialogue despite the sharply diverging interests and attitudes within and between countries. Future stability in the Middle East and global security may well depend on the success of such dialogue.
Printed copies of the Report are available on request.