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Immigration and the Arab Spring - Italy promotes Euro-Mediterranean dialogue

By Italy - Ministry of Foreign Affairs
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ROME, Italy, December 14, 2011/African Press Organization (APO)/ -- In the changing Mediterranean, the events of recent months associated with what is being called the Arab Spring and, in particular, with the problems associated with migration flows, have redirected attention to a region that has always been an Italian foreign policy priority. There is a growing demand for Italy in the Mediterranean, but Italy is also sensing the need to contribute to resolving the difficulties associated with the changes in the region – such as migration – in a European context by promoting and strengthening Euro-Mediterranean dialogue.

During a conference in Sicily a few days ago Minister Giulio Terzi pointed out that the Italian government “is already engaged in promoting a European Strategy for the Adriatic-Ionian Macro Region”. This strategy can be used in the future as a “model for cooperation with non-Union members on themes common to our sea. If it proves to be a winning strategy”, Terzi underscored, “we will work to extend the model to the countries of the southern Mediterranean shores as well, as the themes on which it is possible to deepen inter-Mediterranean cooperation are analogous: it's enough to consider the environment and the defence of the ecosystem”. The minister also pointed out the need for the European Union to launch negotiations on partnership accords with Libya and Algeria and recalled “the multiplier effect of EU-financed programmes within the framework of the neighbourhood policy”.

Euro-Mediterranean dialogue must address issues associated with migration flows toward Europe, and Italy in particular, that can be considered fall-out from the Arab Spring.

“European policy on Mediterranean region countries has been largely inadequate in the past”, stated Secretary Marta Dassù, speaking at the conference “Italy and the Mediterranean in the International Migration Context” held in Rome for World Migrant Day and the 60th anniversary of the International Migration Organization.

The June 2011 European Council recognised the need, that Italy has repeatedly maintained, for a “joint European effort urging all Member States' concrete commitment to addressing the challenge”. A commitment that should result, the Secretary pointed out, “in the rapid launch of mobility and security partnerships” between the European Union and Tunisia, Egypt and Morocco (as well as Libya at a later time), aimed at effectively countering illegal immigration through the promotion of economic development and stability at home, as well as the regulation of legal flows”. In the Secretary's view “the adoption of a system for the equitable distribution of the burden of reception, and the definition of common rules for asylum, would constitute a litmus test for the kind of Europe we want to live in”.