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Transformation partnership with the Arab world

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Since the Arab Spring in 2011, the Federal Foreign Office has been supporting democratisation and reform processes in the region within the context of the transformation partnership.

The countries involved are Tunisia, Morocco, Libya, Egypt, Jordan and Yemen. In 2016 they were joined by Lebanon and Iraq. The main focus of cooperation is on the promotion of democracy and civil society, human rights, guidance on constitutional and judicial matters, administrative reforms, equal opportunities for women, the media, scholarships and research collaboration. In total around 260 million euros have been spent in these areas since 2012. Moreover, the Federal Foreign Office makes ongoing contributions to a coordinated European and international approach, above all within the EU’s Southern Neighbourhood and the Deauville Partnership.

Countries with very different conditions

Between change and new beginning
Between change and new beginning© picture-alliance/dpa

Despite shared cultural factors, there is a very wide range of historical, political and socio-economic conditions in the countries concerned, ranging from statehood dating back thousands of years to dominant tribal structures, from modern educational systems to high levels of illiteracy, and from significant progress in democratisation to increasing repression. All the states are affected to varying degrees by insufficient competitiveness, inefficient governmental structures and high youth unemployment.

Due to the varying conditions in the countries concerned, Federal Foreign Office assistance is targeting different areas in each case. The transformation partnership has a broad‑based toolkit and is particularly suitable for addressing sub‑state players and civil society. It can respond flexibly to changing situations in the target countries. It is consistent with our policy of an overall crisis prevention approach and has proved its worth in numerous successful projects.

Perseverance and long‑term support

Young Egyptians after voting in the referendum of 19 March 2011 on changes to the constitution
Young Egyptians after voting in the referendum of 19 March 2011 on changes to the constitution© picture alliance/dpa

The effective strengthening of reform efforts requires long‑term support. Tunisia, Morocco and Jordan are working as constructive partners, and cooperation with our flagship partner Tunisia has grown very intensive. The countries which have recently joined the partnership, Lebanon and Iraq, have promising potential areas of cooperation. Cooperation with Egypt is proving difficult. In Libya and Yemen, where successful projects have been implemented in the past, the Federal Foreign Office is now using different political tools.

The Federal Foreign Office intends to continue the transformation partnership. Although democratisation is progressing only slowly or not at all in some target countries, the calls for participation have not died down and a critical public continues to make itself heard. The representatives of civil society who have come under pressure expect us not to leave them in the lurch. However, we need patience in supporting the reform efforts ‑ that is the crucial lesson the last five years have taught us.

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