Today, the Italian Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Antonio Tajani, attended a meeting with the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of Eritrea, Osman Saleh; Ethiopia, Demeke Mekonnen; and Somalia, Abshir Omar Jama, on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly’s High-Level Week.
The Deputy Prime Minister emphasised the strategic role of the partnership between Italy and the countries of the Horn of Africa, which are linked by deep historical and cultural ties, and illustrated the prospects for regional cooperation, both in economic terms and, above all, in terms of regional stabilisation.
Regional stability, together with investment and job creation, is indeed an indispensable condition for reducing migration flows towards Italy and Europe. “The Italian government is strongly committed to supporting concrete measures for the growth and development of the enlarged Mediterranean and Africa and thus addressing the root causes of irregular flows, which are controlled by unscrupulous human traffickers”, Tajani remarked during the conversation.
This commitment was reiterated by Italy last July on the occasion of the “International Conference on Development and Migration”, which was organised at the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs on the initiative of the Italian Prime Minister, Giorgia Meloni, together with the leaders of the southern shore states of the enlarged Mediterranean, the Middle East and the Gulf, the EU first-arrival states and some partners from the Sahel and the Horn of Africa.
The Deputy Prime Minister expressed Italy’s great interest in strengthening economic cooperation with the three countries, given their strategic importance in the region. In the 2020-2022 period, our interchange with the area has steadily exceeded EUR 300 million, while figures for the first half of 2023 show a growth of 23% compared to the previous year.
In order to maintain coordination between Italy, Eritrea, Ethiopia and Somalia as a priority, the Deputy Prime Minister proposed holding annual meetings in a quadrilateral format. The launching of a permanent consultation mechanism will allow the multiplication of opportunities for growth and investment, including in the areas of education and training and the fight against irregular migration flows.
Lastly, the Deputy Prime Minister emphasised the strong attention that the Italian G7 Presidency will devote in 2024 to the African continent, in particular to the Horn of Africa.
In a context of great harmony and cooperation, Tajani handed over to his three African colleagues the invitations addressed to Eritrean President Afewerki, Somali President Hassan Sheikh and Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy to attend the upcoming Italy-Africa Summit on 5-6 November in Rome. This appointment will make it possible to strengthen equal and solidarity partnerships with African countries on the basis of the “Mattei Plan”, which will be presented during the Summit.