Africa not a threat but an opportunity, says Italy premier

Eu should turn head towards Med, change approach to migrants

19 May, 12:12

    Italy-Africa: Renzi at first ministerial conference in Rome Italy-Africa: Renzi at first ministerial conference in Rome

    ROME - Africa is not a threat but an opportunity, Premier Matteo Renzi told participants at an Italy-Africa conference in Rome Wednesday. "Italy isn't nostalgic about the past but about the future," he said. "The future in which Africa is seen not as the greatest threat - as some demagogues would have it - but as the greatest opportunity". Renzi has made investments in Africa a linchpin of his efforts to reduce the flow of refugees and asylum seekers towards Europe. "We're trying to turn Europe's head towards Africa and the Mediterranean," he said, adding that cultivating African relations is not just an ethical move but also a mutually advantageous one. "The agenda we're trying to propose in Europe is totally different from the past," he said. "(Current) economic policy is too focused on the domestic front and on austerity. Many countries have run into trouble.

    And yet Europe is the main neighbour of Africa". Europe must change its economic agenda as well as its approach to immigration, he said.

    "When there's a woman or a man at sea, the first thing to do is to save that life, not to engage in a debate," he said. "We must have a strategic view of migration - there's no point in perpetuating attitudes that can fit in an advert - we must become aware that this phenomenon will go on for years, and a long-term strategy is the only solution".

    Italy must do more for Africa economically, he added.

    "Thirty-eight billion euros in trade with African countries is too little," he said.

    Europe is undergoing "a very great crisis that is not an economic one but a demographic one", Renzi said.

    Renzi added that the recent Islamist fundamentalist terror attacks in Europe "don't come from Lampedusa refugees" because "the problem is within", and raising walls to keep asylum seekers out and thereby avert possible future attacks sends "the wrong message".

    Islamist terrorists aim at symbolic places of culture such as the Bardo Museum in Tunis "and your churches, mosques and schools," Renzi told conference participants. "We must have the courage to say that together (with Africa) we can look to the future," Renzi said. 

    © Copyright ANSA - All rights reserved

    Business opportunities

    The information system of business
    opportunities abroad

    News from Mediterranean