Italian President discusses steps to strengthen ties between Italy and Ethiopia, African Union

Sergio Mattarella, Italian President and Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, Dr AUC Chairperson

Italian President Sergio Mattarella concluded his five days visit to Ethiopia on Thursday, March 17, 2016, after holding bilateral talks with high-level Ethiopian government officials including President Dr. Mulatu Teshome and Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn. Besides official meetings, the president also got the opportunity to visit some historical places in the country.

Furthermore, President Mattarella made an official visit to the African Union Commission (AUC) and held discussions with Chairperson Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma as well as AU member state representatives. The two parties discussed concrete step to broaden and deepen the relationship between the AU and Italy.

“Africa is obviously considered a partner on equal footing. I also consider the importance of the theme of human rights and rights and roles of women in particular, which is on the African Union’s agenda. We also discussed with the AUC Chair, a number of important issues that we have to address at the moment such as the issue of migration; we agree on the need to manage the situation in a responsible fashion and with a shared solidarity,” Mattarella said during his visit to the AU.

The president further said that the migration issue is not something that would likely go away and it is an issue that requires collaboration so as to provide support to those countries that are origins of migration flows.

Italy is currently among countries that are highly affected by the flow of migrants to Europe. The country has been calling on EU states for more help to deal with the huge influx of asylum seekers, many of whom are fleeing war and poverty.

“We express hope that Libya will have a fully operational government that would benefit the Libyan people first and for most, and once this crisis are over come, it will be possible to address the various phenomenal that are causes of suffering among migrants,” he also said.

Africa and Italy have had a long standing history of cooperation, and Italy can play an important role in contributing to the transformation of Africa’s economy in different areas such as job creation, agriculture and agro processing, skills development, renewable energy, women empowerment and fight against child marriages, infrastructure, peace and security and migration among others, it was stated at the meeting.

Africa is obviously considered a partner on equal footing

Mattarella also underlined the need to pursue collaboration between Italy and the European Union on one hand and the African Union and African countries on the other in the field of economic development, transfer of skills and knowhow so that the African continent can grow and develop as indicated in the Agenda 2063 and the various objectives identified by the African Union.

On her part, AUC Chairperson Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma said that African’s look at the Italian model of small and medium enterprises for growing the continent’s economy and creating jobs needed for young people.

“We would like to really cooperate with Italy, in the area of economic activities; agro processing, in energy, transfer of skills and knowhow, as the president mentioned. We think there is a lot that we can do that can produce win-win results for the Italian people and for the African people,” Zuma said.

The Chairperson further stated that the African Union is looking forward to follow up meetings and carry out some activities that would concretize a bit more the relationship between the AU and Italy.

The meeting provided a good opportunity to put renewed focus on the bilateral cooperation in the fields of peace and security and migration, confirming the opportunity for a stronger and longer term partnership in order to jointly address the root causes of migration and build migration management capacities in the African continent.
Within the framework of the Africa-EU relations, the two delegations agreed on the important role of Italy as a member of the EU to contribute to strengthening Africa-EU relations.