The FONDEMA Foundation works towards a renewed dialogue between Europe and the southern Mediterranean shore and Africa.

Introduction from the President

Mr. Ahmed Saouli-Dehili
February 2012

In the picture: Mr. Ahmed Saouli-Dehili, President, and Mrs. Eveline America, Director (right), with the Director of UNESCO, Mrs. Irina Bokova (left)


Tunisian writer Emma Belhaj Yahia wrote:
"My Mediterranean would not be beautiful if it were not diverse."

This multiplicity can partially explain the often tense relationships between Europe and the southern coast of the Mediterranean. In reality, for any connoisseur of Mediterranean history, it is impossible to understand this region and its development without examining the idea of mutual enrichment of both sides of the sea coast throughout the centuries.

One could cite the Roman ideal of “mare nostrum” and Rome’s hand in Mediterranean unity or the exchanges of ideas between Mediterranean peoples from Macedonian Greece to ancient Egypt, from the synthesis used in Nabataean art to Medieval Europe’s rediscovery of ancient Greek philosophy thanks to Arab-Muslim intellectuals. Such is history, an ebb and flow of social exchanges: sometimes, the trade of ideas and other times, the violence of war.

The Mediterranean region, as all other geographical zones, has not been an exception to this rule. Throughout the centuries, Europe has also seen its demons of hate, even civil wars opposing brothers, going even as far as the holocaust. The same demons of hate haunted the southern coast of the Mediterranean through the ambitions of local empires.

People try to claim that history does not repeat itself, that we are in the 21st century and that international relations are based on dialogue and diplomacy. But reality forces us to admit that things are not so idealistic; things became even clearer since “September 11th” and the increasing tensions between the Arab-Muslim and the Western worlds. Thus, a Euro-Mediterranean dialogue has become even more important than before. Here, the European Union should be honored for its initiative in starting the Union for the Mediterranean. The latter should, however, integrate the recent changes that many countries in this region have experienced in what has been called the “Arab Spring”.

Through my professional and personal involvement, I have desired to see an improved understanding between our Europe, Northern Africa, and Sub-Saharan Africa. I have the honor to serve the FONDEMA Foundation with others, especially at the sides of its dynamic director, Mrs. Eveline van Tinteren-America. FONDEMA's mission is to see bridges built between neighboring people forced to live side-by-side and to build an enduring peace for the best of the whole community.

Basing FONDEMA at The Hague was not at all a coincidence, for this city has such an emblematic position as the capital of international justice, representing the foundational values of fighting injustice and promoting equality for all peoples of Europe and the Mediterranean and all peoples of the world. The Hague is thus an example of justice for all peoples of the region, a notable emblem of such an important universal value.

FONDEMA envisions increasing cultural, economic and academic exchanges between Europe and the southern coast of the Mediterranean and Africa. In order to accomplish this goal, many activities are to come: conferences, debates, and cultural, artistic and economic partnerships. In recognition of its mandate, FONDEMA has received the official Dutch "ANBI" certification, recognising its status as a charitable organisation.

I am looking forward to working with many different partners eager to sponsor our work and benefitting from each person’s contributions in this charitable pursuit.

In conclusion, allow me to share a famous quote by Jean Bodin, a master philosopher and humanist: "Mankind is the only true source of wealth."

Ahmed Saouli-Dehili