Mediterranean is strategic for Italy, says Meloni in Algiers

ALGIERS, 23 GEN – Italian Premier Giorgia Meloni on Sunday flew to Algiers for a two-day visit focusing on energy, gas and industrial development opportunities – central themes for her first official bilateral trip abroad. During her visits to Algiers, the prime minister is expected to start laying the foundations of the so-called Mattei Plan, inspired by Enrico Mattei, the founder of energy giant ENI that positioned the sector at the centre of Italy’s economic boom. Mattei died in 1962. The premier’s idea is to cooperate with African countries to turn Italy into an energy hub of the Mediterranean.

The scenario is interesting for Algeria, a country which has become Italy’s top natural gas provider as a consequence of the war in Ukraine. And if Rome has found a way to replace Russia, Algiers has found the path it was seeking to reduce its reliance on oil sales, which has led the country to suffer recurring crises each time the crude oil prices plummet.

Algeria, an historic partner of Moscow and its third-largest arms buyer, in April abstained from a UN motion against Russia and voted against suspending the country from the Human Rights Council.

“Algeria is a friend of all countries, except those who don’t want it: it does not depend on any diplomatic sphere of influence”, Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune told the newspaper L’Expression. The president is meeting Meloni on Monday and will travel to Paris in May. He has not ruled out a mission to Moscow.

Italy and Algeria have signed a memorandum of agreement for cooperation in the space sector and are committed in the automotive, shipbuilding, tourism and agricultural sectors.

Indeed agreements will be made at the end of the visit of the Italian delegation, including ENI CEO Claudio Descalzi and the president of industrialists union, Carlo Bonomi.

From the prime minister’s perspective, promoting a Mattei Plan can also have a positive impact on the management of migration flows from Africa. In the short term, however, Meloni is asking the EU to change its approach. And she is expected to highlight this stance at a European Council on February 9-10, after illustrating Italy’s position to partners in the coming weeks. The premier is scheduled to travel on February 3 to Stockholm, in Sweden, the country which holds the EU’s rotating presidency, and could be headed to Berlin before going to Brussels.

Source: Ansa News Agency