Abdellatif Ghedira (third from left) was re-elected to lead the International Olive Council.

Abdellatif Ghedira was re-elected executive director of the International Olive Council (IOC) for another four-year term at the 109th session of the Council of Members meeting held in Marrakech, Morocco last month.

Deputy Directors Jaime Lillo (of Spain), in charge of administrative and financial affairs, and Mustafa Sepetçi (of Turkey), who is responsible for the technical, economic and promotional units also had their mandates extended until 2023.

Many in the industry saw this as a lost opportunity for Italy, which according to previous diplomatic agreements, was expecting to obtain a leading position in the organization. The world’s second largest producer of olive oil will now need to wait another four years before getting the opportunity to have a leading role in the only international body that governs olive oil production and standards.

Shortly after his re-election, Ghedira also dismissed an Italian technician who had a pivotal position in the organization. This move also upset Italian officials and sparked controversy among operators in the sector.

According to Italian media reports, several others also criticized some of the issues that emerged during and after the session.

These reports said that the representative of Israel was not allowed to participate in the session of the Council of Members, and therefore was prevented from voting on the new directors. The reason cited for Israel’s exclusion was an error on the country’s registration.

According to the daily newspaper ItaliaOggi, a technicality was found by the committee, which was composed of representatives of the European Union, Tunisia, Algeria and Turkey, that allowed the vote to go ahead without Israel’s representative present. The rules of the IOC state that if less than two-thirds of member nations are present, a single vote against re-election can block the reappointment of the incumbent directors.

The meeting was opened by the Egyptian Minister of Agriculture, Ezz El Din Abu Steit, who is the chair of the IOC for 2019, and was attended by the member countries Algeria, Argentina, Egypt, the European Union (which also represented Montenegro), Jordan, Libya, Morocco, Palestine, Tunisia, Turkey and Uruguay.

The United States and Georgia also participated in the session as observers, with the IOC approving latter’s request for accession. Georgia is now set to become the organization’s seventeenth member. Representatives from Albania and Iran were also at the meeting, with the two nations joining the IOC’s advisory committee.

Several institutions, including the Arab Federation for Food Industries, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the International Center for Advanced Mediterranean Agronomic Studies and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development also took part in the session as observers.

During the session, the Arab Federation for Food Industries reached an agreement with the IOC to spread the organization’s quality standards across all Arab countries, even those currently outside of the IOC.

There was a meeting of the IOC Administrative and Financial Affairs Committee, which was held on June 17, and an international seminar on the future of the olive sector in Morocco, organized by the Moroccan delegation and the IOC technology and environment unit, which was held on June 20.

At the end of the session, Ghedira thanked Nabil Chaouki of the Agriculture Ministry of Morocco, for the smooth running of the session.

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