On a visit to Tunisia the Italian ministers for foreign affairs and the interior met with their counterparts to discuss stability in the Mediterranean region and stopping migration flows. The Italian delegation will travel to Egypt on Saturday, another key departure and transit country.
Italy's interior minister, Matteo Piantedosi, and the foreign minister, Antonio Tajani, flew to Tunis on January 18 where they met with the Tunisian president, Said Kaied, and their counterparts.
Tajani said that Rome wants to cooperate with Tunis to "reduce irregular immigration and boost regular immigration."
It was his first visit to Tunisia since a far-right government came to power in Italy in October. Since then the government has vowed to stop the flow of migrants across the Mediterranean and has introduced a decree for NOGs limiting their rescue capacities at sea.
At the meeting the delegation discussed economic support, trade partnerships, additional quotas for the decree regulating migration flows in exchange for an improved monitoring of the coastline and an increased number of repatriations.
During the weekend Tajani will visit Egypt, another key country on the migration front.
Number of arrivals from Tunisia reach 32,000 in 2022
It isn't the first time that Italian ministers travel to Tunis asking for improved cooperation to contrast migration flows.
There is an agreement with Tunis that has been in existence for years regarding the repatriation of "economic" migrants, with weekly flights from Italy. However the figures did not meet with Rome's approval and Tunisia's economic crisis continues to push thousands to leave and seek better lives in Europe.
Tajani called for "elaborating mechanisms that allow to increase the number of repatriations."
He said that Italy is always ready to "support the efforts" of Tunisia in this field, "as the 47 million euro of funding by the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs over these last years prove."
Last year, about 105,000 people arrived in Italy by sea -- one third of them (32,000) left from the Tunisian coastline.
More regular migrants in Italy if Tunisia ready to take back irregular migrants
Piantedosi talked about a "very fruitful relation. Working together to face and manage migration flows is key, especially in terms of preventing the departures in the first place," he underscored.
"Therefore, we are grateful to Tunisian authorities for the effort they already put in to managing departures and we wish that these activities can be intensified. It is in this sense that the stability and economic growth of the Tunisian Republi are crucial elements of common interest. Italy is doing its part, with over 900 businesses present in Tunisia," he added.
Minister Tajani also underscored this aspect: “The big issue on migration is not only the security aspect, it is important to address the issue at its root cause. Together with security measures we must work toward policies that help to counter poverty, terrorism, climate change and diseases," he noted.
Regarding the future migration flow decrees, he added "we are working to offer a quota for the countries that operate virtuously, respecting the agreement: if they take back their irregular migrants they can send more regular migrants."
Italy is "ready to increase the number of regular immigrants, trained in Tunisia, who can come to work in agriculture and industry", Tajani said, but did not specify how many visas could be granted or whether a formal agreement was under discussion, reported AFP.