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Italy, a bridge between Europe and Africa 0

ROME – In Rome today a new partnership was born. “We do not need walls, but to be increasingly connected”, the Italian PM Matteo Renzi said to the first Italy-Africa ministerial conference at the Italian Foreign Ministry headquarters. Italy, as a bridge between Europe and Africa, “feels no nostalgia for the past, but does so for a future in which the continent is not a threat but an opportunity”, thus is trying to “draw Europe’s attention to Africa and the Mediterranean”, Renzi said closing the event.

The Conference was based on a new and diverse vision of Africa, seen perhaps for the first time not as a continent plagued by endemic ills but also as a land of  potential and opportunities. For this reason, and to create a platform to hear voices from Africa, the Foreign Ministry, in collaboration with ISPI (an Italian Institute for International Political Studies), gathered in Rome the governments of some 50 African countries, about 30 UN Permanent representatives to the UN, leaders of international organizations and agencies of the UN system, Italian entrepreneurs and experts, for a meeting that had “never [taken place] at such a high level”, as Italy’s FM Paolo Gentiloni commented.

The Conference was opened by Italian President Sergio Mattarella and the Minister of Foreign Affairs Paolo Gentiloni, followed by in-depth panels chaired by four representatives of the Italian government: Maurizio Martina (Agriculture), Angelino Alfano (Interior), Gianluca Galletti(Environment) and Mario Giro (Deputy Foreign Minister). Among the major Italian companies who joined, Eni, Finmeccanica, Enel and Terna and many others took part to the event. The discussion rotated around issues that are considered fundamental, such as sustainability in relation to the environment, the economy and migration flows, peace and security and, consequently, peacekeeping and peacebuilding.

“Our goal is [to build] a closer and more structured relation between the Africa continent and Italy” which “share a common destiny”, Mattarella said. Therefore, there is a “duty to propose and discuss global approaches that are related not only to urgencies, and can lead us to lasting solutions”. According to the President of the Italian Republic, “a great alliance investing on peace, security, and an economic growth of the continent” needs to be secured.

There are “common causes that challenge us: first of all the cause of peace and the destiny of mankind. The need for a deep fight against terrorism and all forms of fundamentalism. The urgency to extinguish the breeding ground of political tensions. The need to defeat plagues, such as hunger, famine, endemic diseases and infant mortality,  whose existence is unjustifiable, given the level of knowledge we have acquired. A wise management of a migration phenomenon that is non-temporary, but epochal. The need for economic and social policies that support economic growth and employment. Finally, the fight against corruption, which drains valuable resources at the expense of development”.

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by Maria Novella Topi

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