“An Italian peace”. As he opened the second day of celebrations for the 20th anniversary of the peace agreement that brought an end to the civil war in Mozambique, Foreign Minister Giulio Terzi recalled the words with which the UN Secretary General at that time, Boutros Ghali, defined the novel form of mediation that brought together Italian diplomacy and that of the Community of St. Egidio. After running through the 24 months of the negotiations, Terzi underscored that “the 1992 accord is a lesson learned, that can help us to resolve other crisis situations in Africa but also to spotlight the rich dividends of peace”.
A peace on which nobody at the time would have placed their bets but which eventually took concrete form and has lasted 20 years. A peace that has transformed a country exhausted by conflict into a dynamic economic and social reality with which Italy has developed “a new approach to cooperation: no longer a donor-beneficiary relationship but a true partnership of countries on an equal footing. […] The extraordinary power of those negotiations”, explained Terzi, “came from the ability to tackle the complexity of a crisis marked by 15 years of civil war. […] And Italy’s willingness to talk to all parties concerned was one of the main reasons for their success”.
A line followed in many crisis areas
The line of action followed by Italy in Mozambique, explained Terzi, was then taken up “in the Balkans, in Lebanon, and in many other crisis areas”. An analysis with which his Mozambican colleague, Oldemiro Baloi, agreed. “Mozambique’s experience is a benchmark, a milestone, and an excellent example of how to help populations help themselves”.
Minister Terzi reiterated the importance of peace for the transformation of this southern African country into an “equal partner” with an economy that has shown constant growth “and which is managing the discovery of major natural resources in a responsible manner”. Terzi was referring here to the enormous gas fields just discovered by ENI and which in just a few years will see Mozambique become one of the world’s leading energy suppliers. The change in the relationship between Italy and Mozambique over these 20 years has also been reflected at the European level.
The “joint EU-Africa Strategy”
“With the adoption, in 2007, of the joint EU-Africa Strategy”, commented Terzi, “European-African relations have moved from the donor-beneficiary approach to one based on a dialogue of equals”. In this light, “Italy is now asking Europe to pay special attention to its African neighbours in the sphere of the Neighbourhood Policy”. But peace has brought Mozambique other benefits too. And from being a country dependent on aid from all sides, it has now been transformed into a regional actor contributing to the efforts to bring peace to the region.
Clear and reliable rules against piracy at sea
Turning to security, Terzi mentioned the issue of piracy in the Indian Ocean and off the Mozambique Channel. “We are all victims of piracy: Western and African countries too. So we need clear and reliable rules that are universally recognised and observed by all countries to combat this threat to global security”.
TERZI: COOPERATION FOR GROWTH, FROM DONORS TO PARTNERS
Mozambique is “a virtuous example of the role that development cooperation can play as an essential element of foreign policy”, especially for the growth of a country emerging from a long and bloody civil war. That is how Minister Terzi summed up Mozambique’s recent history, at the close of a meeting at the Farnesina with his Mozambican colleague, Oldemiro Baloi. The meeting was part of the celebrations marking the 20th anniversary of the peace agreement in which Italy mediated between Mozambique’s government and the guerrilla opposition.
A philosophy of partnership
Terzi recalled his mission to Maputo in May 2012 and commented on Italy’s contribution to Mozambique’s economic growth, not least following the signing of the peace agreement (Rome, 4 October 1992). Above all, he noted, “the philosophy underlying development cooperation philosophy has changed”. Italy’s approach is no longer that of “donor country”, but one inspired by a philosophy of partnership – on an equal footing”.
Minister Baloi agreed with Terzi’s analysis, and underscored that “everything that’s been achieved in these 20 years has only been possible thanks to peace. […] and thanks to Italy’s contribution to our economic diversification, job creation and the fight against poverty”.
The average annual flow of Italian aid to Maputo amounts to about 30 million euros, although in recent years budgetary restrictions have brought a reduction in flows. Nonetheless, the negotiations for the new country-programme for 2013-15 are now under way, with Italy pledging 15 million euros. Donor aid worth 21 million euros is also envisaged.
Annual growth at 7%
Mozambique is potentially one of the world’s leading energy suppliers. Today the Farnesina is hosting a country presentation for this southern African country which, as Minister Terzi pointed out to representatives of major Italian companies, has grown in the last 10 years at an annual growth rate of over 7% and could reach a peak of 10% in the near future.
The exploitation of the enormous gas fields recently discovered by ENI – an estimated 1974 billion cubic metres – will play a strategic role. The energy company already plans to invest 40-50 billion euros, which will have an important knock-on effect in the country’s wider economy. But there’s space for yet more investment – from the agri-food business to tourism – thanks not least, said Baloi, to “guarantees of favourable investment conditions” for foreign companies, with Italy’s leading the way.
More than 100 companies at the Farnesina
Italian investors’ confidence in the Mozambican market was evidenced by the large presence of business people attending today’s presentation at the Ministry, with representatives from over 100 companies. Not just those traditionally present in Mozambique, and which have built the country’s main infrastructure, but also small and medium-sized enterprises. Indeed, both Terzi and Baloi are looking to SMEs with interest and confidence.
Italy enjoys a significant trade with Mozambique. From 2009 to 2011, trade rose from 200 to 382 million euros and exports, at 52 million, have grown by 117% in the last three years. But that is not enough. In Terzi’s view, Italy can do more, and he wants the country to “climb from our current 18th position in the ‘league table’ of suppliers to Mozambique”.
“Africa”, underscored Terzi, “has come to occupy a central position in our foreign policy. The further development in our relations with the continent and its most dynamic countries is an integral and key element of ‘diplomacy for growth’”.