Groundbreaking poll casts light on key cultural challenges for the Mediterranean

People living in societies in Europe and in the Southern and Eastern Mediterranean region are suffering from a distorted and stereotyped perception of each other, according to a groundbreaking report on the challenges of human and cultural relations in the region.

The report also highlights a sharp contrast in attitudes to religious faith between the southern and northern shores of the Mediterranean, but finds a mutual acknowledgment of the benefits of regional cooperation in the model of the ‘Union for the Mediterranean’.
The report, ‘EuroMed Intercultural Trends 2010’, is based on the very First Gallup Public Opinion Survey on Intercultural Trends and Values involving 13,000 people across the region, and has been two-years in the making by the Anna Lindh Foundation, involving experts from 22 countries.
Speaking at its international launch today in Brussels, under the Belgian Presidency of the European Union, Štefan Füle, EU Commissioner for Enlargement and Neighbourhood Policy, welcomed the publication of the report: “The report we are launching today is good food for thought. It takes the debate on the Mediterranean identity out of intellectual meetings and places it in the streets. The result is a loud and clear message of hope and an important tool for further strengthening Euro-Mediterranean relations.”
André Azoulay, president of the Anna Lindh Foundation said: “With the findings of the report, we will be able to speak with more clarity to the people at large about the political, human and cultural realities we are facing when it comes to make true the Mare Nostrum.”
Clash of Ignorance
Among its main findings the report’s survey reveals increased interaction and the existence of compatible values between people across Europe and the Mediterranean, but a significant gap in mutual perceptions.
The opinion poll found that one in every three/four persons from the two shores of the Mediterranean had the opportunity last year to meet people from other countries of the Region, but that misperceptions and a lack of knowledge exist between people, especially in terms of the perception of each other’s sets of values.
The main common value identified was family solidarity – at the top of European priorities and receiving a significant percentage from south and eastern Mediterranean respondents.
However, Europeans misjudged the values of parents in the southern and eastern Mediterranean countries, in particular underestimating the importance of religious belief. Europeans also underrated the importance of curiosity, of independence, and of obedience in the upbringing of children in the southern and eastern Mediterranean.
Proposals for action
To address these problems, the report sets out a number of guidelines and proposals, including:
  • Investing in Education for Intercultural Learning
  • Supporting the Potential of Media for Improving Knowledge and Respect
  • Supporting the Intercultural Dimension within the Urban Space
  • Developing Tools for an Improved Quality of Interaction
Centrality of Religion
The most pronounced difference in values between European countries and those on the southern and eastern shores of the Mediterranean is the importance placed on faith.
A majority of residents of countries in the South and East Mediterranean regard religion as the single most or second most important value to pass on to their children, more so than any other proposed value. In sharp contrast, Europeans place religion as the least important value to pass on to their children of any of those presented.
“The striking difference on the value of religion likely presents the greatest challenge facing this group of countries,” said Dalia Mogahed, Anna Lindh Report Expert and Executive Director of the Gallup Centre for Muslims Studies. “If one group regards religion as central, while the other regards it as unimportant or even harmful, the relationship is at risk of misunderstandings or mutual offence.”
Proposals for action
  • Fostering Dialogue between People with Different Religious Beliefs
  • Investing in Education for Intercultural Learning
  • Developing Tools for an Improved Quality of Interaction
Support for Mediterranean Union
The report finds that people across the region expect that a common project in the model of the Union for the Mediterranean can bring to their societies positive benefits for the future.
Innovation and entrepreneurship are the benefits most mentioned by the people living on the southern and eastern shores of the Mediterranean in relation to a shared Mediterranean project. Respect for other cultures, social solidarity and youthful dynamism are the most appreciated benefits by Europeans.
The Anna Lindh Report also reveals that the ‘Mediterranean’, as a socio- cultural category, exists for the majority of people of the region, with four out of five respondents identifying positive images with it such as hospitality, life-style and common cultural heritage and history.
About 80 per cent of respondents associated the Mediterranean with a positive virtue and expressed curiosity and desire to reach for and discover the other as well as the deep conviction of a proximity which would draw its legitimacy from historic depth. More than 80.5 per cent envisage the Mediterranean as a common heritage.
At the same time, respondents expressed the potential of the Mediterranean as a source of concern, with nearly 68 per cent of respondents seeing the Mediterranean as a possible source of conflict in the region.
Proposals for action
  • Conveying Key Images and Values associated to the Region
  • Enhancing the Role of Youth and Women as main actors of the Union for the Mediterranean
  • Developing Tools for an Improved Quality of Interaction
About the Anna Lindh Report
The Anna Lindh/Gallup Opinion Poll 2010 was carried out with 13,000 people from 13 countries in Europe and the southern and eastern Mediterranean. It is the very first time such a Euro-Mediterranean Survey has been carried out on intercultural trends and values.
Key questions and findings in the Survey include: Interest in people in other countries across the Mediterranean; Levels and methods of interaction between people; the vision for the Union for the Mediterranean; the role of Media in promoting cultural diversity.
The 13 Euro-Mediterranean countries involved in the Anna Lindh/Gallup Poll 2010 were: Bosnia and Herzegovina, France, Egypt, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Lebanon, Morocco, Spain, Sweden, Syria, Turkey and the United Kingdom.
The Anna Lindh Foundation for the Dialogue between Cultures is a €7 million EU-funded project which aims at bringing people and organisations of the region closer and promoting dialogue, by offering them opportunities to work together on projects in the fields of culture, education, science, human rights, sustainable development, the empowerment of women and the arts. The Foundation is the first institution to be jointly created and co-financed by all member countries of the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership. (ENPI Info Centre)
EuroMed Intercultural Trends 2010 – press pack
EuroMed Intercultural Trends 2010 – full report
EuroMed Intercultural Trends 2010 – webpage
Anna Lindh Foundation – fiche and news
Anna Lindh Foundation – website     


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