Marzouki’s comments underlined the pressing desire of the newly established governments in countries like Libya and Tunisia for support from the European Union as well as worries in Europe about the potential spread of instability.
The killing of U.S. ambassador Christopher Stevens in Libya and the sacking of the U.S. Embassy in Tunis last month in protests over an anti-Islamic video provided a sharp reminder of how fragile the situation remains in the region.
The first meeting of leaders from the so-called 5×5 group of countries since the „Arab spring“ revolutions, produced few concrete decisions and was billed mainly as a forum for dialogue between countries in the western Mediterranean.
Algeria, France, Italy, Libya, Malta, Mauritania, Morocco, Portugal, Spain and Tunisia form an informal smaller group of countries alongside the 43-member Union for the Mediterranean launched by former French President Nicolas Sarkozy in 2008.
With the southern European countries struggling to stave off their worst financial crisis since World War Two, there was little prospect of any immediate financial assistance from the meeting in Malta on Friday and Saturday.
On the European side, interest was divided between the tantalizing but still distant hope of creating a stable, prosperous region across the Mediterranean and the immediate problem of containing instability.
„If we can succeed in avoiding a transformation of the Arab spring into an Arab autumn or even a freezing winter, that will be a great investment in the European economy“, Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti said.
A statement issued after the meeting condemned the violence in Syria and called for broader cooperation across the region.