May 31, 2012 01:16 AM
The Daily Star

ATHENS: A leading energy consultant called on Middle East countries and the European Union to increase investments in green energy and alternative energy.

Roudi Baroudi, who was one of the key speakers at the 2012 Mediterranean Oil and Gas Conference in Athens, told participants that the time had come for a new Barcelona Process that would help revitalize the Euro-Med area’s economies.

Baroudi said that some 70 percent of Europe’s petroleum consumption and 30 percent of world trade passes through the Mediterranean.

He noted that both opportunities and hazards can only increase as exploration and extraction of the region’s under-sea hydrocarbons expand in the coming years.

Baroudi argued that energy security and affordable supplies are nothing less than crucial to both economic growth and social development, and achieving these goals without undue risks demanded a broadening and strengthening of Euro-Med cooperation and coordination.

“There are too many advantages to be secured by working together and too many risks to be run by failing to so do so,” Baroudi said.

He added that the EU deserved a large portion of credit for having had the vision to initiate Barcelona, thus laying the groundwork for so many subsequent accomplishments.

“But the best is yet to come, if we grasp the opportunity to intensify our partnership,” Baroudi said.

The 1995 Barcelona Declaration was instrumental in broadening areas of cooperation among more than two dozen countries, both inside and outside the EU, which border on – or have strong interests in – the Mediterranean.

The resultant partnership was given three core objectives: maintaining stability by pursuing political and security dialogue; increasing regional prosperity via economic and financial cooperation; and promoting rapprochement among peoples via social and cultural exchanges.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on May 31, 2012, on page 5.

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