Friday,22 February, 2019
Current issue | Issue 1405, ( 9 - 15 August 2018)
Friday,22 February, 2019
Issue 1405, ( 9 - 15 August 2018)

Ahram Weekly

Necessary cooperation

For the first time since 2015 an Italian foreign minister has visited Cairo, reports Doaa El-Bey


Necessary cooperation
Necessary cooperation

Italy’s Foreign Minister Enzo Moavero Milanesi was in Egypt this week. During meetings with Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukri, Milanesi discussed issues of mutual interest including illegal migration, Libya, the Palestinian question and terrorism.

In a press conference held on Sunday Shoukri said the two countries were exerting every effort to overcome any obstacles in the way of warmer ties.

“The common challenges we face, including terrorism and illegal migration, make enhancing cooperation between our two countries essential,” he said.

Milanesi, for his part, praised Cairo for its “excellent cooperation” in the investigation into the death of Giulio Regeni, the Italian student tortured to death in Cairo in 2016. Regeni’s murder had precipitated a souring in relations between Cairo with Rome.

“We appreciate the excellent cooperation that we have seen between the judiciaries of both countries and we are confident that justice will be done on this painful issue,” Milanesi said at the press conference.

“I was pleased to hear from the Egyptian minister of the strong will on the part of the Egyptian government to achieve concrete results in the investigations.”

Regeni was doing postgraduate research on trade unions when he disappeared in January 2016. His body was later discovered bearing signs of sustained torture.

Italy is Egypt’s second largest European trade partner, and its fourth largest globally. Italy is also the fifth largest foreign investor in Egypt, with seven billion euros in current investments.

Both officials underlined the importance of the two countries’ cooperation on migration, an issue that has dominated recent Italian politics and fuelled the election success of Rome’s new right-wing coalition.

Hundreds of thousands of migrants have landed on Italy’s shores in recent years.

Shoukri said Egypt had halted illegal migrations from its own shores and despite shouldering a great many burdens had proved itself a reliable partner of the European Union.

The two men also discussed ways to boost economic ties. The opening of an office of the Italian Export Credit Agency (SACE) in Cairo was announced during the visit. SACE provides government guarantees to Italian companies wishing to invest in Egypt.

Milanesi said his government was looking to provide further funding to support SMEs and the agricultural sector in Egypt, and to increase Egyptian agricultural exports. In return Shoukri said Egypt was looking forward to reactivating the Joint Business Council after its activities were suspended in 2016.

Shoukri praised Italy’s role in supporting Egypt’s attempts to become a regional energy hub, pointing to continued drilling and exploration carried out by the Italian company ENI and a recently signed contract between the Ministry of Petroleum and the Italian company TECHNIP. The latter will increase the refining capacity of the MIDOR Alexandria refinery at a cost of more than $1.5 billion.

Following the Shoukri-Milanesi meeting, Foreign Ministry Spokesman Ahmed Abu Zeid said developments in Libya had been discussed at length.

Shoukri welcomed cooperation with Rome over reaching a comprehensive formula to achieve political stability, confront terrorism in Libya, rebuild Libyan state institutions, address imbalances in the distribution of resources among Libya’s regions and allow the holding of parliamentary and presidential elections at the earliest opportunity, said Abu Zeid.

The talks also touched on developments in the Palestinian territories and Egypt’s efforts to urge all parties to resume negotiations and relaunch the peace process.

Shoukri expressed gratitude to the Italian government for returning Egyptian artefacts seized by the Italian authorities in Salerno in 2017.

During the visit Milanesi also met with President Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi and Pope Tawadros II.

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