Italy-Africa summit, Prime Minister Meloni welcomes the leaders: “What happens in the Old Continent involves us”

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By John

After the opening of the works at the Quirinale, the second day of the international ‘Italy-Africa summit’ is held in the Senate. A bridge for common growth’, with Prime Minister Meloni, heads of state and government and ministers of African countries, the leaders of the European Union, the African Union and the main international organisations.

The Prime Minister, Giorgia Meloni, arrived around 9am, welcomed by President Ignazio La Russa, at the Senate, where the welcoming ceremony for the heads of delegation is underway. Will follow the family photo and the plenary session, with the opening speeches of the prime minister herself and of the foreign minister Antonio Tajani, of the president of the African Union Azali Assoumani, of the AU Commission, Moussa Faki, of the presidents of the EU Commission, Council and Parliament (Ursula von der Leyen, Charles Michel and Roberta Metsola) and the UN deputy secretary general Amina Mohammed. This will be followed by five thematic sessions, focused on cooperation in the economic and infrastructural fields, food security, energy transition, professional training and culture, migration and security, in which the relevant ministers will participate.

Mattarella’s words

Sergio Mattarella cited an African proverb “of great wisdom” to close his toast in front of heads of state and government and other guests at the Italy-Africa summit, an occasion desired by Giorgia Meloni to launch the Mattei Plan. «If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go with someone”, he said, hoping for a “common path” towards “well-being and peace in Africa, in Europe and in the world”. “It is cooperation that drives progress”, he underlined, and in front to the ongoing crises, the common “task” is to “explore the extraordinary potential for developing relations” between the two continents, “on the political level, to extinguish the sources of tension and conflict, on the economic level, to achieve sustainable production and an equitable distribution of resources, to enhance the heritage of our respective cultures.”

Meloni: “Everything that happens in Africa affects us”

After the evening at the Quirinale, the Senate chamber will be the showcase of the strategy on which the prime minister has been working since her inauguration. A “political framework” to strengthen collaboration with Africa in a “non-predatory” way, which for a few weeks has also had governance, with a control room that will meet for the first time in February to work on the first projects. For the opposition it is just “an empty box”, but Palazzo Chigi and Farnesina are certain that the approach will generate positive results, from a geopolitical and energy point of view. «The advantages for Italy are countless», Meloni is sure: «Everything that happens in Africa involves us, from migration to security through supply chains». As in Tunisia, in Lampedusa, and sometimes on the sites of the flood that hit Emilia Romagna, also in this event with a strong political and symbolic value, alongside the prime minister there will be Ursula von der Leyen (who announces «a new era of cooperation » with the African Development Bank). It is the sign of an increasingly solid axis between the president of the European Commission and Meloni, who have developed a certain feeling especially on dossiers linked to immigration and cooperation with African countries. The leaders of other EU institutions will also be there. And this “shows how important it is to include the Mattei Plan in a European strategy”, underlined Foreign Minister Antonio Tajani. Shortly afterwards a clear endorsement arrived from Brussels. The Commission, a spokesperson explained, “welcomes” the Mattei Plan, believing that it “fits well with the joint vision for 2030 to which the leaders of the EU and the African Union have committed themselves” and “with the plan of Global Gateway investments in Africa”, approximately half of the overall 300 billion euro allocation. «We have established priority subjects and pilot countries in which to launch the first projects», explained Meloni.

Rome looks above all to the largest and most populous countries on the continent, inevitably also the most influential. The first could emerge at the summit. There is already talk of Algeria, Egypt (with which the EU is also trying to create a memorandum) and Morocco. «What we did in Tunisia must be replicated with other nations and we are working on it», explained Meloni, ready to see President Kais Saied again. Abdul Hamid Mohammed Dbeibeh, prime minister of the Government of National Unity, is expected from Libya, and it is not excluded that Meloni will discuss agreements to slow down migratory flows, a topic on which the prime minister received valuable support from Recep Tayyip a week ago Erdogan, the president of Turkey, who has a particularly active role in the North African country. However, among the over 40 participants there is not Nigeria, the largest state in Africa, a fundamental player especially in the western area, tormented by chaos in Niger, where “the replacement of the alliance with France with others” creates ” concerns” from the point of view of “geopolitical stability”, as explained by the Minister of the Interior Matteo Piantedosi. Another hot front is the Red Sea. “There risk being consequences” for the economy “if we do not defend freedom of navigation – explains Meloni -: 15% of world trade passes through the Suez Canal, in the best case scenario blocking those merchant ships means increasing the cost of the products arriving on our market, we cannot allow it. What we are doing is promoting together to the EU a defensive mission to guarantee freedom of navigation”.