Slovenia establishes 'Mediterranean' university

The picturesque Slovenian town of Piran will host the University Center for Euro-Mediterranean Studies.

prian slovenia 88 (photo credit: )
prian slovenia 88
(photo credit: )
Imagine studying for a master's degree in law in a pretty tourist town on the Adriatic, and as part of your studies taking courses in highly-regarded universities in Barcelona, Haifa, the Syrian port of Latakia and Bir Zeit, north of Ramallah. If the Slovenian government's initiative goes as planned, this vision will become a real opportunity for Israelis, Syrians, Moroccans and all other Mediterranean and European peoples. The inauguration ceremony for the University Center for Euro-Mediterranean Studies will be held on June 9 in the picturesque Slovenian tourist town of Piran. The ceremony is a sign of the great hopes the Slovenian government has for the new university. Besides the prime minister of Slovenia and the presidents of the European Council and the European Commission (Slovenia holds the presidency of the EU for the first half of 2008), the ceremony will be attended by Israeli university heads and Arab leaders, including Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa. A Slovenian government institution established in October 2007, the University Center for Euro-Mediterranean Studies is both a university and a network of universities. Students will study at the Piran campus, and be able to take courses in all partner universities around the Mediterranean basin and throughout the EU. The University Center counts two Palestinian (Bir Zeit University and Al-Najah National University in Nablus), four Israeli (Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, the University of Haifa, Western Galilee College in Acre, Galilee College in Nahalal, an Egyptian and four Turkish universities as already-signed partner institutions. Morocco and Egypt also have signed agreements at the political level. Organizers are also hoping to sign a partnership agreement with the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. The new institution comes in the framework of the 13-year-old "Barcelona Process" - officially termed the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership - through which the EU has sought to develop closer economic, political and social ties with Mediterranean states. The school's mission includes building "a network of mutual understanding between the countries of the Euro-Mediterranean area." Even so, Israel's diplomats are taking a wait-and-see attitude toward the new institution. While a Foreign Ministry spokesman said Israel "welcomes all forums that can bring about dialogue among the nations of the region," another government official told The Jerusalem Post the project was "not yet ripe," and would likely not turn into a new force fostering tolerance in the Middle East.