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A civil society expert workshop and discussions amongst OSCE delegations on the topic of Dialogue in Search of Social Cohesion, organized by the 2016 Austrian Chairmanship of the OSCE Mediterranean Contact Group and hosted by Spain, concluded on 24 May 2016 in Madrid.
Some 20 experts consisting of academics, practitioners, community leaders and NGO representatives from the Mediterranean region discussed about dialogue and mediation efforts addressing challenges in the region and later continued debates with OSCE delegations.
"Dialogue is at the heart of our chairmanship. Today was an opportunity to directly exchange opinions amongst civil society and our delegations on so many challenges where all parts of society need to be involved" said Ambassador Christian Strohal, Chair of the 2016 Austrian Chairmanship of the OSCE Mediterranean Contact Group during a discussion with OSCE delegations.
"Nowadays there is no risk of exaggeration when we emphasize the importance of the Mediterranean region," said Spanish Secretary of State Ignacio Ybanez. "We are convinced of the indispensable need to work with our southern partner in order to face together the present challenges and tale advantages of the many opportunities that come along."
Ambassador Eberhard Pohl, Chairperson of the OSCE Permanent Council, said: "Dialogue and mediation can help to respond to very pressing challenges like the current refugee and migration crisis, the threat of radicalization, emerging violent extremism or terrorism. In all of these issues we need to act resolutely and with a common sense of purpose on both sides of the Mediterranean. To this end the OSCE Mediterranean Partnership offers a very important platform."
Recommendations from the workshop will help in finding a better way to link initiatives of civil society and governments. The example of Libya was also discussed with delegations, as well as increased cooperation in the Mediterranean region. Martin Kobler, Head of the United Nations Support Mission in Libya, also participated in the discussion.