Giorgia Meloni returns to Tunis to strengthen her cooperation project in the field of migration

Giorgia Meloni returns to Tunis to strengthen her cooperation project in the field of migration

Tunisia still holds a special place in Georgia Meloni's foreign policy. For the fourth time in less than a year, the President of the Italian Council headed to Tunis on Wednesday, April 17, to meet her counterpart, President Kais Saied.

Accompanied by a large ministerial delegation, MI Meloni only stayed in the Tunisian capital for a few hours before heading to the European Council meeting in Brussels. I took the opportunity to announce several cooperation protocols: direct support worth 50 million euros to the Tunisian state budget for the benefit of… “Energy efficiency and renewable energies”A credit line worth 55 million euros to support small and medium-sized Tunisian enterprises, and a framework agreement to lay the foundations for cooperation in the academic field.

During that “press release” – To which journalists were not invited – Giorgia Meloni, through these agreements, put forward an approach “Brand New”, “equality”Based on “mutual interest” It is part of its ambitious African policy, lies at the heart of its diplomacy and is now inseparable from the migration strategy focused on the goal of putting an end to illegal arrivals to Italian territory.

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“We can no longer address the issue of migration in isolation from our African partners. A high-ranking Italian diplomatic source explains. It must be included in a global approach and take as a basis the requirements of countries of departure and transit. »

Tunisia, the test country for Italian African policy

Giorgia Meloni's vision, which initially came from a story and a speech but was gradually built from official visits to various conventions, incorporates her concept of the “Matti Plan for Africa”. This initiative was launched during the Italian-African Summit on January 28-29, and should include the entire government as well as the various players in the Italian economy. “This new visit by Giorgia Meloni to Tunisia aims to show that this plan is starting to have concrete applications and to project an image of diplomacy in action towards its international partners and its voters.”Maria Fantappie, Director of the Mediterranean, Middle East and Africa Department at the Istituto Affari Internazionali, an influential Romanian think tank, explains: “Tunisia is the country where the African policy of the Italian government was tested for the first time thanks to the personal relationship between the President of the Council and Kais Saied. »

The Tunisian president has increased his warnings in recent days, repeating that his country will only deal with other countries ” On an equal footing “ He seems to appreciate the speech of Giorgia Meloni, the only European leader with whom he has such a regular dialogue, and who carefully avoids addressing his authoritarian drift. During the visit, Mr. Saeed welcomed this cooperation and expressed his desire for it “Strengthening and diversifying cooperation and partnership relations between the two friendly countries”.

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This is a common desire between Rome and Tunisia, which represents many interests. In the field of energy, in which Italy aims to become a “hub”. Between the two shores of the Mediterranean, it is scheduled that, by 2025, the electricity networks between the two countries will be connected via the Mediterranean cable, paving the way for exploiting the enormous potential of southern Tunisia in the production of solar and wind energy. .

Tunisian territory is also considered a transit platform for Algerian gas towards the Italian peninsula. Finally, Tunisia is an important outlet for about 900 companies from the peninsula located on its territory.

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On the migration front, as spring brings favorable weather conditions for crossing the Mediterranean and the European elections approach in June, Giorgia Meloni is counting on Tunisia’s cooperation to prevent the campaign from being affected by peaks in arrivals whose effects could be politically disastrous. Pictures taken in September 2023, showing an exceptional influx of more than 10,000 migrants from the shores of Tunisia to reach the island of Lampedusa, sparked a wave of panic among European governments and raised questions about the importance of the first efforts made by the President of the European Union. The Italian Council on the Tunisian Front.

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Numerous human rights violations

Since this incident, the Tunisian authorities have carefully reasserted their control over the maritime borders, while on land they have strengthened the repression of exiles and increased expulsion campaigns towards the borders of Algeria and Libya. If this has been done at the expense of numerous human rights violations, Giorgia Meloni did not fail to make her statement. “I thank once again the Tunisian authorities” On the work accomplished and welcoming the results of the agreement “Comprehensive strategic partnership” It was signed, under its auspices, by the European Union and Tunisia, on July 16, 2023.

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In addition to this initial relief, his visit comes in the context of the increasing arrival of migrants to the Italian coast from the Tunisian coast in recent weeks. If this trend is kept in mind because it halved during the first four months of 2024 compared to the previous year, it nevertheless shows how volatile Tunisian immigration control is.

Thus, President Kais Saied reminded, once again, of his categorical refusal for his country to be like this “Destination or transit point for illegal immigrants”. In Al-Amera, a coastal area in east-central Tunisia, located more than a hundred kilometers from Lampedusa, there are thousands waiting, in very precarious conditions, to be able to cross the Mediterranean Sea. Migration control mandated to Tunisia pursuant to the July 2023 memorandum presented by Giorgia Meloni during its signing “A model for establishing new relations with North Africa” Since it was copied with Egypt and soon with Mauritania, it appears fragile today.

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