Essebsi urges all-encompassing EU strategy for southern Med
ROME – President Sergio Mattarella stressed Wednesday that Italy and Tunisia were determined to increase their collaboration against terrorism and human trafficking. He was speaking at the end of a meeting in Rome with his Tunisian counterpart Beji Caid Essebsi.
”Between our countries there is renewed friendship and full collaboration. The centrality of the Mediterranean, which will be one of the main points of the next G7, strengthens our relations,” Mattarella said, adding that six accords would be signed on Thursday on issues ranging from tourism to environment, energy and collaboration. A cooperation agreement with Tunisia on combatting illegal immigration will also be signed.
Mattarella noted that Italy and Tunisia both want to find a government in Libya that can bring peace to it. Essebsi said that Mattarella had ”come to Tunisia in a very difficult moment, after the attacks. But now that time is part of the past. Security in Tunisia is at European levels. I encourage all Italians to come back to us”.
He added that relations between the two countries stretched back to ancient Rome and Carthage. ”But even now there is very strong collaboration. Italy is the gate to Europe and it is paying a very high price compared with the rest of the EU as concerns the migration issue. But now there is no longer a problem of clandestine migration from Tunisia. However, this is a problem with deep roots in Sub-Saharan Africa. And it is not possible to manage migration without dealing with development.
Also terrorism,” he said, ”cannot be defeated with force alone. The European Union must start an all-encompassing strategic project with countries in the southern Mediterranean for a future in peace and security.”
In another connection, On Wednesday Foreign Minister Angelino Alfano announced via Twitter that Italy will sign a cooperation agreement with Tunisia on combatting illegal immigration on Thursday.
Tunisian president Beji Caid Essebsi is in Italy for a 2-days official visit.