For the first time the Foreign Ministry has prepared a strategic policy document dedicated to Africa, presenting it at the highest level with the participation of Minister Di Maio.
A ground-breaking initiative, to be continued in the future, aimed at combining the institutional dialogue with our African partners with the essential involvement of all other key players in Africa: from businesses to civil society, from academia to the third sector.
As clearly highlighted in the “Partnership with Africa” document, we intend to strengthen further the already solid ties with this continent by adopting a global approach, from political relations to security, from economic and trade relations to cooperation in the fields of science and culture.
Geographically speaking, the regions with which Italy has historically deep-rooted relations, namely North Africa and the Horn of Africa, are now linked in a geopolitical arc that extends from the Mediterranean to the Red Sea, across the Sahel strip.
Geographical proximity means that Mediterranean Africa is a strategic area for our country in political, security and economic terms. From the Italian perspective, the Maghreb is increasingly viewed not simply as the northern border of another continent but as the “southern shore” of a broader region – the Euro-Mediterranean region – to which we belong. For this reason, we have spearheaded the Southern Neighbourhood partnership in Europe, based on the shared management of common resources: the environment, energy, culture, connectivity. For the same reason, alongside our commitment to fully support the stabilisation process in Libya, sponsored by the United Nations but Libyan-owned, we intend to ensure our support to Tunisia, to help it overcome the delicate political, institutional and economic phase it is currently experiencing. In recent months we have also consolidated our bilateral relations with important countries such as Algeria and Morocco.
Traditionally, the Horn of Africa is a region in which Italy plays a leading role due to its historic political, economic and cultural ties with the countries in the area. Over the last few weeks, we have carefully followed the worrying developments of the crisis in Ethiopia, our partner of excellence in Sub-Saharan Africa, hoping for a settlement, to ensure peace for the Ethiopian people and for the entire Horn of Africa, and pointing out to the Ethiopian authorities that we expect their full collaboration with the international organisations to ensure access by humanitarian workers and aid.
In Somalia, Italy has traditionally supported the institutional rebuilding of the country and is strongly committed to peace and security in the area, contributing to the fight against terrorism and illegal trafficking, both bilaterally and through our participation in European Union missions, including EUTM-Somalia, of which we have had the command since 2014. Our action is also aimed at fully reintegrating Somalia into the international community, a first important step in which was the recent initial normalisation of relations with the International Financial Institutions, to which we have strongly contributed.
Italian action is expressed not only through our bilateral relations but multilaterally as well. In fact, we firmly believe in the role played by African regional organisations in promoting peace, security and sustainable development, also with a view to ensuring increasing African “ownership” of the response to crisis and instability situations.
In the international multilateral forums, Italy is committed to supporting the requests of our African partners and ensuring that there is a consistently high political and economic focus on the continent. Within the framework of the United Nations, we participate in a number of peacekeeping missions in Africa and contribute to conflict prevention activities, also by offering training and capacity building programmes.
It is often said that Italy, due to its geopolitical location in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea, and its historic relations with many African countries, constitutes a bridge between Europe and Africa. I believe that this image accurately represents the role that our country is called on to play in relations between the two continents: facilitating understanding and collaboration between our European and African partners, which is already intense and fostered by structured dialogue between the European Union and the African Union.
More in general, Italy is willing to collaborate with all the international stakeholders interested in the stability and development of the African continent, also by launching “triangular” cooperation projects, while never giving up on the values that underpin our relationship with Africa, equal partnership, free of hidden agendas and consistently aimed at promoting and protecting human rights and good governance.