“In 2017, Italy made a great political and diplomatic investment to bring the Mediterranean back to the centre of the international political agenda. The Mediterranean may seem to be more like a lake than a sea on the map, but there are fundamental global security challenges at play in this area. For example, the risk that Isis fighters return after their defeat in Iraq and Syria, the Libyan crisis, new tensions in Lebanon, potential extremism and pressure from the east. I wish to underline the importance of increasing cultural and university exchanges. Italy believes that culture is the fourth pillar of sustainable development, along with economic, social and environmental plliars. Last year we launched a very ambitious 'Italy, Cultures, the Mediterranean' programme encompassing more than 500 cultural initiatives in the region. I also promoted a large-scale 'Erasmus of the Mediterranean' to enhance student mobility by increasing the number of scholarships available. I am very happy to have signed an agreement on this last December with the Ministers of Algeria, Egypt, Lebanon, Libya, Tunisia and Morocco, and hope that more countries will join this initiative.
"We are at a crucial juncture at this time in history: either the Mediterranean goes back to being a cultural, civil, commercial and investment hub, or it sinks into a whirlpool of clashes, terror, social desperation and instability. The international community must do its best to ensure the former wins out over the latter since peace, security and sustainable development in a region connecting Europe, Africa and Asia will benefit everyone. That is both for us and future generations,” said Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Angelino Alfano, at the opening of the 5+5 Dialogue Forum in Algiers.