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Vaccine Diplomacy in the Mediterranean: The Contest for Influence

Online Discussion

The Regional Program Political Dialogue South Mediterranean of the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung (KAS PolDiMed) and Casa Árabe are co-hosting an online panel discussion that will explore the current situation of vaccination programs in the Mediterranean region, as well as the geopolitical implications this process may have for the wider region. Experts on the panel will shed light on the underlying technical considerations and current state of affairs, perceptions in the region regarding the actors providing vaccination, and the geopolitical contextualization of the current realities for the region in the months and years ahead. The event will be livestreamed on March 4 at 18:00 CET on the following YouTube channel:

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Program Vaccine Diplomacy in the Mediterranean download

The global Covid-19 pandemic had a severe impact on countries in the Mediterranean region. Most health systems suffered from rising numbers of infections in the first and second waves of the pandemic. In 2020, international actors already tried to support the countries by offering medical equipment and general technical assistance. This was already marked by competition between rival global actors to see who could deliver the fastest, and in some cases it was seen as a publicity stunt and influence peddling rather than an altruistic motivation.


In 2021, this process has even intensified as a number of vaccines have entered the global market and the quest for influence in the Mediterranean has been exacerbated. The contest plays out primarily among China, Russia, the United States, and Europe, all of which eagerly pushed for their domestically procured vaccine variants to enter the global market. Aside from the public health implications of providing the population with vaccination programs, the question once again became geopolitically relevant as to who could deliver the most efficient, rapid and cost-effective vaccine and thus be a reliable partner and increase their sphere of influence globally.


The Chinese and Russian vaccine variants were initially met with skepticism, but recent preliminary studies showed that they can be as effective as vaccines produced by U.S. or European companies. Notably, both China and Russia succeeded in supplying larger quantities to interested countries very quickly, gaining momentum in the global struggle to lead the vaccination program. European countries channeled their support to third countries primarily through the COVAX initiative, which is co-led by the World Health Organization, Gavi, and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations. While the COVAX Alliance offers vaccine doses that are low-cost or even free, they tend to be slow in the process and therefore seem to lag behind. Certainly all countries are looking for a quick and cost-friendly option, it remains to be seen which vaccination option will come out ahead in the effort to protect the population from the Corona virus.




Welcome and introduction remarks

Thomas Volk

Director, Regional Program Political Dialogue South Mediterranean, Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung



Karim Hauser Askalani

Head of International Relations, Casa Árabe


Expert Discussion

Rym Ayadi

Founder and President, Euro-Mediterranean Economists Association (EMEA)


Samer Al-Atrush

Independent Journalist


Sami Nader

Director, Levant Institute for Strategic Affairs


Open Discussion and Q&A

Here you will find the program for download: Program Vaccine Diplomacy in the Mediterranean.pdf

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YouTube Livestream:


  • Rym Ayadi
    • Samer Al-Atrush
      • Sami Nader
        • Karim Hauser

          Malte Gasseling