(By Matteo Meloni)
TUNIS, JANUARY 20 – The so-called Arab Spring has changed the political asset of the African-Mediterranean countries, where new governments and political parties are still trying to define the balance of power after years of clashes and tumults. Tunisia is a unique case of success, where a working political class and democratic institutions have already adopted a modern Constitution that shaped the future of the Northern African country.
In this framework Italy plays an important role, reaffirmed by Angelino Alfano, Italian Foreign Minister in yesterday’s visit to Tunis. Alfano met with Beji Caid Essebsi, President of the Republic of Tunisia, the Prime Minister Youssef Chahed and his counterpart Khemaies Jhinaoui. The officials had talks about economy, culture, fight against terrorism and migrations, key topics of the international agenda.
Minister Alfano recalled “the historic continuity and the commonalities of bilateral relations between the two countries” and said that Italy wants to boost the cooperation with Tunisia in every aspects. In May Italy is to host the G7 meeting in Taormina, Sicily, and Tunisia is invited to take part in the event. “Italy and Tunisia have in common history, geography, a mutual culture and above all a deep friendship”, said Angelino Alfano.
Italy strongly support Tunisia institutions: the President of the Republic Mattarella will meet Beji Caid Essebsi in February. “President (Mattarella) is happy to welcome you, our staffs are working together to organize the meeting for the best success and to reach concrete results”, affirmed Alfano talking with Essebsi. “Tunisian democracy is a precious treasure, a barrier against Islamic fanaticism”.
There are several important project on which Italy and Tunisia are working: youth training opportunities; economic development of the hinterland; the fight against terrorism; the energy interconnectivity. Alfano mentioned the support for young Tunisians by proposing the “Erasmus of the Mediterranean”, a proposal that has the goal to “unite the young generations through a new version of the consolidated and successful EU member states Socrates/Erasmus programme”, affirmed the Foreign Minister.
During a press conference, Minister Alfano and his colleague Jhinaoui agreed on a common management of Italy-Tunisia border. “We have the same enemy: human traffickers”, said Alfano. Italy rescues thousands of migrants trying to reach Europe via the Mediterranean: according to the IOM, the UN International Organization for Migrations, since the beginning of 2017 3,156 human beings arrived in Europe, 2,393 saved by Italian authorities. Last December Italian Coast Guard was appointed UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador “as recognition for its efforts in rescuing thousands of minor migrants and refugees”.
Minister Alfano visited the Bardo Museum to pay tribute to the victims of the March 2015, where 22 tourists – among them 4 Italians – have been killed by terrorists. “I wish to confirm the Italian government’s determination in enhancing cooperation in the strategic areas of bilateral cooperation. Namely, the development of economic relations, fulfilling the country’s potential, the fight against terrorism and cooperation on migration issues,” said Minister Alfano. (@melonimatteo)