ROME (RAHNUMA): Italy intends to consolidate its strategic relationship “in every possible sector with Algeria” and will call EU attention to give further support to such an important country, Italian President Sergio Mattarella has said.
He was speaking after meeting Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune during a visit to the north African country.
Mattarella is the first Italian president to visit Algeria in 18 years. He was due to visit last year, but the trip was postponed due to the pandemic.
“Algeria and Italy have had deep relationships for quite some time,” the Italian president told his Algerian counterpart. “This country is a strategic partner for us and we intend to consolidate this strategic relationship. Our economic collaboration is excellent and is in great recovery, and we believe that a further expansion is possible and desirable.”
Mattarella expressed his wish that the fourth Italy-Algeria intergovernmental summit would take place soon to fine-tune and develop all possible forms of cooperation to intensify the dialogue between the countries.
“As an Italian and a European, I consider the Mediterranean as a component that has defined the identity of my country and of the whole of Europe. My presence here in Algeria, which is definitely a Mediterranean and African country, symbolizes our common identity and our shared values,” he said.
He added that Italy was pushing for collaboration with countries on the other side of the Mediterranean. “Those countries are the gateway for cooperation between the European Union and Africa in which Algeria has a decisive role.”
Tebboune said the friendship between the two countries was “solid and ancient” and that it has been strengthened during the “black decade,” when Algeria was plagued by terrorism. “In that phase Italy was the only country left on our side,” he added.
He confirmed he had the same views on Libya and its future as Mattarella did, and that Algeria and Italy would work on increasing cooperation between their small and medium-sized enterprises.
“We are optimistic and we hope that the Italian-Algerian cooperation can lead to positive results,” he said.
Bilateral agreements were signed at El Mouradia Presidential Palace to enhance judicial and cultural heritage cooperation.
Mattarella also met the president of the National People’s Assembly, Ibrahim Boughali, Prime Minister Aymen Benabderrahmane, and representatives of the Italian community living in Algiers.
On Sunday he will take part in the inauguration ceremony of the Enrico Mattei Garden, which is named after the founder of the Italian oil company ENI.
He will also visit the Basilica of Saint Augustine of Hippo in Annaba.