The Under-Secretary for Foreign Affairs, Benedetto Della Vedova, is in Tunisia today to attend the “Invest in Tunisia” international conference and meet his Tunisian counterpart, Faysal Gouia. Their meeting should be set in the framework of Italy’s efforts to support the democratic transition process undertaken by Tunisia, efforts sanctioned by the Strategic Partnership Declaration of May 2012.
“For Italy, Tunisia is a strategic partner”, said Della Vedova at the conference. “We’re the country’s second commercial partner and, in recent years, one of its main investors. Tunisia is a positive exception and a source of hope for the many, disappointed, supporters of democracy in the Arab world and in the moderate Islamic communities. This country may not have much oil, but the strengthening of its free and democratic institutions can become ‘Tunis’s black gold’ to make the country a stable and secure door for the Maghreb and for Africa as a whole. The birth of a ‘Tunisian model’, underscored Della Vedova, can act as a serious, credible challenge, even to those violent groups in the Islamic world who, by exploiting religion, seek to turn the clock of history back centuries”.
The Under-Secretary also addressed the immigration question. “Today the Strait of Sicily is known for being the route of desperation, the route followed by thousands of people fleeing war and poverty but ending up in the hands of criminal organisations engaging in pitiless and inhumane trafficking. But we and you, together, have the historic and moral duty to restore to the Strait of Sicily its role as a bridge of prosperity and of civil, cultural, religious and economic dialogue. If hope returns to the Strait of Sicily”, concluded Della Vedova, “there will be no more room there for despair”.