Tunisia Strengthens Relations With Italy

Tunisian President Moncef Marzouki on Thursday (September 11th) wrapped up a two-day trip to Italy, where he met with senior officials to discuss bilateral co-operation.

Italian officials expressed their readiness to support Tunisia to complete its transition phase and said they would continue to provide logistical support to combat terrorism.

If terrorism is not confronted and the Islamic State (ISIS) is not eliminated, there will be hell, Marzouki told the Italian Senate.

He added that the threat to Tunisia was coming from Libya and reiterated his country’s rejection of any foreign intervention in the neighbouring country.

During a meeting with the pope on Thursday, Marzouki also denounced the suffering of Iraqi Christians from attacks by ISIS.

“What is perpetrated by this group does not represent the teachings of Islam, which aocates co-existence between Muslims and Christians,” he said.

The two sides also emphasised the importance of supporting all Libyan political parties to reach a solution within the framework of a national consensus to ensure the stability and security of the country.

On the economic side, President Marzouki stressed the need to further enhance trade ties by encouraging Italian businesses to invest in Tunisia.

He proposed converting Tunisian debt into investment projects in order to promote development.

For his part, Italian Premier Matteo Renzi noted during the meeting that his country was willing to assist Tunisia with economic development projects and help to overcome some of its financial difficulties.

Italy is Tunisia’s second largest economic partner after France. There are more than 700 Italian firms distributed between different regions of the country.

Tunisia is expected to host a joint economic forum following an initiative by the Tunisian Union of Industry, Commerce and Handicrafts (UTICA) and Italian employers’ federation Confindustria to strengthen relations between the two countries in the economic sphere.

This forum, slated for the first quarter of 2015, will be attended by many heads of institutions and decision-makers in both countries.

With regard to illegal immigration the two sides agreed on crystallising radical solutions to deal with this phenomenon, which is not limited to the security side. The two partners aim to develop economic alternatives to curb migration.

The two sides pointed out that harragas are increasingly coming from the Libyan coasts (97% in 2014).

Italy gave Tunisia two military speedboats in June in order to address the illegal immigration that is troubling Europe.

Source : Magharebia

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