President Sergio Mattarella during his speech, at the opening ceremony of the eighth edition of the international conference Rome MED Dialogue, on December 2, 2022 | Photo: ANSA
President Sergio Mattarella during his speech, at the opening ceremony of the eighth edition of the international conference Rome MED Dialogue, on December 2, 2022 | Photo: ANSA

Italian President Sergio Mattarella has attended the opening ceremony of the Rome MED Dialogue over the weekend, urging Europe to make its voice heard on its "southern front".

President Sergio Mattarella has spoken about immigration during the eighth edition of the Rome MED Dialogues. Mattarella opened the international conference on Friday, December 2.

Premier Giorgia Meloni also spoke about immigration at the event, calling for "more Europe on the southern front".

Call for cooperation, solidarity

Mattarella said the "management of migration flows" is a "key and global matter".

"Diplomacies, national and international organizations, starting with the EU, are called upon to commit together" on this issue, continued the president. "At stake are the life, fate and dignity of human beings. It is a crucial matter for the stability and prosperity of the EU and our southern neighbors," he added.

This situation must "drive us to confront together" challenges "in a spirit of strong solidarity", the president noted.

Also read: Niger president calls for new pact with Europe to help manage migration

'Opportunities in Euro-Mediterranean-African region to consolidate democracies'

Mattarella noted how a "unitary vision" of the entire "Euro-Mediterranean-African region" highlights how this context represents today a range of opportunities as well as a key element to find solutions "through a relationship of close cooperation".

The interconnection between the two shores of the Mediterranean "makes investments urgent in terms of political attention towards the southern" shore, the president also stressed.

The "objective", the head of State went on to say, is "working together for the consolidation of institutional and democratic processes, especially where they are more directly threatened, like in Syria and in the Sahel region. On this subject, I would like to thank the president of Mauritania, Mohamed Ould Ghazouani, and the president of Niger, Mohamed Bazoum, for their commitment in this sense and to stress that they will be able to count in their actions on the support of the Italian Republic".

New decree on migration flows for some 70,000 arrivals

Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni on Saturday, December 3, told the international conference that repatriations should be managed at a European level. She said this is an "indispensable" approach as Europe must be more present "on the southern front" because "we can't be in charge" of a migration flow that has acquired "unmanageable proportions", speaking about her government's requests to Brussels.

The cabinet is studying a new decree on migration flows, which could include a similar quota to the 69,700 arrivals established in the last one, a year ago.

Foreign Minister Antonio Tajani is following the dossier together with the interior and agricultural ministers. "We would like workers to arrive in our country when they are already trained" and when they "already know where they are going to work", said Tajani. "We would also like to award countries that forge agreements with us", said the Italian diplomacy chief.

Central Mediterranean route as priority a 'victory', says Meloni

Meloni noted how the fact that, "for the first time, the central Mediterranean route was considered a priority in a document of the European Commission is a victory."

She said this "would never have happened if Italy hadn't spoken" about the need to "respect international law" and to "confront the phenomenon of migrations at a structural level."

The prime minister went on to say that the Mediterranean should not be perceived as a "place of death caused by human traffickers," asking the EU to relaunch cooperation on migration "with partners in Africa and the Mediterranean, which must be increasingly involved in the fight against human trafficking."

Meloni thus called for "more Europe on the southern front."

She said "many European policies are at risk of being incomplete if they are not part of a wider Mediterranean dimension."

'Mattei Plan' for Africa

Meloni repeated that she also wants to promote a so-called "Mattei Plan" for migration from Africa, referring to late state oilman Enrico Mattei's development schemes there.

She called it "an approach with a non-predatory but rather a cooperative stance" because "our prosperity is not possible without" the prosperity of "our neighbors". In this way, the "concerning evolution of Islamist radicalism" could also be fought more effectively," particularly in the sub-Saharan area", she said.


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