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THE MEDITERRANEAN COMMUNITY AND THE EU: THE ITALIAN PERSPECTIVE

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Abstract

The still too short life of the Mediterranean Forum of the European Community (EUROMED) has already proved that Europe is changing one of its earlier ways of matching political issues. This was the approach that consisted of considering itself just as a continental land and addressed its interests mostly towards the west-bound and the north-bound. It is possible to say, however, after the tearing down of the Berlin Wall, the fall of the USSR and the start of a new world order dominated by just one nation -the US -that a fundamental change has taken place: Europe has 'rediscovered' its links with the East and the South, which is to say Asia and Africa. A few brief historical considerations can be useful for a better understanding of my point. The ideal of a united Europe does not date back much in time. Before the 15th century the concept of Europe was basically a geographical one. The ancient Greeks and Romans were the first to imagine it. After the christianization of the Roman empire and its separation during the fourth century between a Pars Orientis and a Pars Occidentis, people living inside its borders started to think of themselves as being part of 'Christianity'. The separation of the Latin-speaking world from the Greek world distinguished Western Christianity from Eastern Christianity. After the 15th century, while the Greek and the Eastern churches stood inside the sphere of influence of dar-al Islam , the Western churches, guided by the Pope, were trying to engender a 'practical' unity, taking the shape of a federation. One can think that, since the 9th century, the German-Roman empire after its birth was already moving in the same direction. This empire had a very strong authority and remained alive for an entire millennium, from the time of Charles the Great up to the the Peace of Pressburg (1806). In reality, however, after the 18th century this empire lost real political authority over Europe, with the exception of a few territories between Germany and northern Italy. Its moral prestige was kept alive, but nothing more than that.

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