Over 50 African countries, with their Permanent Representatives to the United Nations in New York and the chiefs of about 15 between international organizations, partake in the First Italian-African Ministerial Conference, held today at the Foreign Ministry and organized by the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation in collaboration with the Italian Institute for International Political Studies (ISPI).
The President of the Italian Republic, Sergio Mattarella, opened the meeting this morning, with a wide-ranging strategic and cultural discourse. “Our goal is a closer and multidimensional relationship between Africa and Italy”, despite our awareness of the “multiple and complex challenges it may pose,” the Head of State said.
“The international situation we live in has changed long ago.” “The process of globalization has connected Africa and Europe even more.” “The crisis has triggered awareness of how the destinies of the two continents are even more interconnected.” In this context, the problems and the search for solutions have become “inevitably joint.” “The world is too interconnected.” Therefore: “Africa is not and cannot be ‘other’ than in Europe. And the other way around”. “That vision has waned and finally got relegated to the past.”
Shared causes “challenge” us, for peace and for the destiny of humankind, Mattarella said. In concrete terms: “The need for a ceaseless fight against terrorism and all forms of fundamentalism. The urgency to extinguish political unrest. The need to defeat plagues – such as hunger, famine, endemic diseases, and infant mortality -, whose existence is unjustifiable in the light of the level of knowledge we have reached. Wise management of the migration phenomenon, which is not transitory, but epochal”. Moreover, we need economic and social policies able to support economic growth and employment. Fight against corruption, which drains valuable resources at the expense of development.”
On the issue of terrorism and fundamentalist threat, the President of the Italian Republic used the following words: “The safety our lives and that of our communities is severely shaken by the threat, insidious and transverse, of terrorist fundamentalism. Violent minority forces take hostage entire populations”.
“Mass migration represents the most painful deprivation of people’s future for the African continent in present times: millions of people are fleeing impoverish African civil society and represent the most painful toll to disorder and oppression, and it will affect its ability to development itself”. This complex and humanitarian problem should be dealt with “a multidimensional approach, ranging from emergency management to the elimination of the causes that push so many people to leave and integration where it is necessary.”
These are the “shared challenges we need to face right away, because tomorrow it will be too late.” And it is “a unique opportunity for the role our countries plays and for the consequences that our actions will have on future generations.” “We have the duty to fully discover the extraordinary development potential of relations between Africa and Europe, and we already have all the tools to jointly use the opportunities we face.”
The historical situation we live in, even of crisis and danger, then, is a good opportunity to rebuild the relations between the European and the African continents, between the European Union and the African Union, with a new culture of living and working together for the common good of the present and future humanity, “abandoning obsolete stereotypes and logical visions.”
“Africa plays an increasingly important role in politics, and the architecture of international security and economy,” Mattarella said. “Italy is a bridge between Africa and Europe” due to their geographical location, history, and culture. On the other hand, “Italy has consistently supported the need for strategies that would go beyond the simplistic logic, that is, answering the phenomenon with hwalls and barriers.” Thus, in a “strategic partnership” between Italy and Africa, we will propose and discuss ” approaches of global nature, not only urgency-related, but able to lead us to lasting solutions”, in the direction of a “sustainable and inclusive development.” Starting from some fundamental questions, areas, and problems: “Education, training, skills acquisition and enhancement in favor of the population, beginning with women”. In cooperation between state institutions and private enterprises.
“A very useful role, as part of this integrated vision, will be played by the private sector, appropriately involved in this work, and its renewed commitment to the alignment between the profit needs, and social development and environmental sustainability opportunities”, Mattarella went on. “Improvement of food security and nutrition, improvement of health services and those of basic education, protection of the most vulnerable sections of the population, and the development of a micro-system pass through this approach”.
“Our primary duty is to save lives and help those who are in conditions of difficulty and suffering,” said the Head of State. “We must not forget even for a moment – and Italy has never done so – that the principle of protecting the life and dignity of every human being must be at the basis of our action.”
After President Mattarella’s introduction to the Plenary Session, followed the speeches of Italian Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Gentiloni and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Chad, current President of the African Union, Moussa Faki Mahamat. The program also includes the interventions of the President of the Commission of the African Union Dlamini Zuma, the African Union Commissioner for Peace and Security Smail Chergui, and the Commissioner for Energy of the U. A. Elaham Ibrahim. President of the Council of Ministers Matteo Renzi will close the meeting.