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Middle East Platform III: Promoting social cohesion and interaction through the notion of citizenship (October 2017)

Executive Summary

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The third meeting of the Middle East Platform was held from October 9 to 10, 2017, in Istanbul at the Mercure Topkapi Hotel. The participants from the first and second Platforms from Bahrain, Iraq, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia and Yemen were invited in addition to a small delegation of Syrians. This meeting, as the previous Platforms, was held under the Chatham House Rule.

This third Platform was a success, all the objectives were achieved. It presented the fruits of the seeds that have been planted over the previous one and a half years. The changes in attitude, in individual and group behaviors were striking. Moreover, a diminution in polarizing geopolitical arguments and an increase in trust and serenity among the participants permitted more efficient exchanges that were more focused on the subject. This indicated that the participants took a greater ownership of the space, and were eager to take full advantage of this Platform for exchanging on actions, entry points, challenges and ways to overcome them. It also highlighted the appropriation by the participants of the rules and principles of the space to a point where they could show self-regulation.

The network has been strengthened and broadened. Throughout almost a year of communication through the Whatsapp group, the participants became relatively familiar with each other. The meeting enabled this evolution in their relations to be concretely experienced beyond the virtual space. Moreover, Syrian participants were included and communication channels between the conflicting parties in Bahrain were increased.

Projects that are being implemented as well as projects from outside the Platform circle were discussed. Participants proved to be very participative, making links to their own experience, to the respective context in which they work, bringing ideas to move forward, warning against pitfalls and proposing ways to overcome the challenges.

At the end of this third Platform, the participants have been empowered in this experience. They expressed the will to take more advantage of this network by making it more active throughout the year, whether by direct meetings or through virtual space. They also expressed the will to reach beyond the Platform, as some participants proposed ideas of public activities for the network.

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