The speakers were Constantinos Filis (Institute of International Relations, Athens), Fiona Mullen (Sapienta Economics, Nicosia) and Sinan Ülgen (Centre for Economics and Foreign Policy Studies, Istanbul); it was co-chaired by Othon Anastasakis and Mehmet Karlı, both of St Antony’s College, Oxford.
Filis saw growing interest by the international community in the Eastern Mediterranean, with a number of increasingly complex challenges and threats in the region.
European countries were unwilling to accept the increasing flow of migrants and refugees from the Middle East or Africa, complicating the status quo in the East Mediterranean. Many jihadist terrorist groups were active in the region, and their reach was expanding in many countries, including Libya, threatening gain of territorial control in certain areas and thence, through migration, increased presence in Europe.
The coronavirus crisis put at risk current and future investments in countries such as Egypt, Morocco, Tunisia, and Jordan, and with significant decreases in energy prices as a result, the economies of countries relying primarily on the energy sector, such as Algeria, would be adversely impacted. Since the crisis would hit weak economies and vulnerable population groups the hardest, it might act as a catalyst for political and social developments at grassroots, possibly leading to uprisings and new political movements, and further exacerbating existing political instability in the region.