Mediterranean not a border, but the center of Europe, Italian PM

Europe is not just economy but also ideals, Renzi says in Tunis

04 March, 19:43

    Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi visits Tunisia Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi visits Tunisia

    (ANSAmed) - TUNIS - Italian Premier Matteo Renzi on Tuesday reiterated that he will place the Mediterranean at the center of his foreign policy agenda. ''This centrality will be the fundamental point of our foreign and territorial policy and of Italy's EU presidency'', Renzi said at a joint press conference with Tunisian Premier Mehdi Jomaa on what is his first foreign mission as premier.

    ''The Mediterranean will not be a border, but the center of Europe'', Renzi said. ''The coming months will make it clear that our EU presidency will not just be a matter of institutional or economic affairs, but also a phase of ideals, values and hopes'', the young premier went on. ''The Mediterranean will be the home'' of such hopes, he said.

    Italy and Tunisia plan to strengthen their bilateral cooperation on immigration issues. He and Jomaa discussed ''patrolling international waters in the Mediterranean Basin'', Renzi explained.

    In an earlier meeting with women's groups representatives in the Tunisian capital, Renzi stated that Europe needs to change course and ''put the Mediterranean at the center'' of its policies. Europe is not ''just economic parameters'', the Italian PM said. ''We must work together so that Mediterranean countries can become the link between Europe and Africa'', Renzi added, underscoring that this is one of the reasons he chose Tunisia as his first destination.
    ''I think the first challenge for Europe is to have an ideal vision, and not just an economic one'', the premier continued. ''So far, the debate has been solely on economic parameters, and this must change''.
        The young premier also met with Tunisian blogger Lina Ben Mhenni, whom he quoted along with the late Nelson Mandela in a speech challenging former Democratic Party chief Pier Luigi Bersani during the 2012 primaries. ''I cited you as a role model'', Renzi told the blogger. ''I lost those primaries, but I did win after that'', he added with a smile.

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