There Antonio Tajani’s visit to Cairo breaks the seven-year freeze that has marked diplomatic relations between the two countries since February 2016 when the tortured and lifeless body of Giulio Regeni.
This terrible crime, for which there are still no perpetrators, legitimizes Italy’s resentments, explained the foreign minister, who made it clear in a long interview with Rainews24 on Friday: Resuming dialogue with Egypt does not mean lifting the curtain on the affair. “We will continue to ask for truth for Giulio and freedom for Patrick Zaki,” said Tajani, who, however, underlined the need for dialogue and cooperation with a country considered crucial for the region’s stability: for Italian energy plans, for pacification of Libya and thus for the control of migration flows.
Tajani will meet his Egyptian counterpart on Sunday morning Sameh ShoukryIn the afternoon he will attend the signing of a cooperation agreement between the Egyptian Ministry of Health and the company San Donato, which specializes in the construction and management of hospital facilities.
The talks with Shoukry are part of the diplomatic action Rome has decided to take in North Africa based on the clues Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni had expressed in November after the bilateral agreement with Egyptian President Al Sisi organized on the fringes of Cop27 in Sharm el Sheikh. Rome wants to become the protagonist in North Africa again, said the Prime Minister, by initiating more concrete cooperation in managing the migratory flows from the old continent to Europe and expanding cooperation in the field of energy.
Abdel Fattah al-Sisi – Giorgia Meloni, Cop27 07/11/22
The theme of migrations He was at the center of talks that Tajani and Interior Minister Piantedosi had with President Saied in Tunis in recent days. And it will also be a central hub in the talks with Shoukry, as Egypt is one of the protagonists of the mediation that has been going on for months pacify Libya and get it to vote, beginning a process of stabilizing the country that should allow the authorities to regain control of its shores, which have been in the hands of trafficking gangs for over a decade.
But this makes the factional solution in Libya more difficult Turkish military presence next to Tripoli, which Egypt sees as a security threat and an obstacle to the country’s normalization. Tajani’s visit to Ankara last week can be explained in this context: the Deputy Prime Minister asked his colleague Çavuşoğlu for Turkish cooperation in the detente process in Libya. That means taking a step back and officially withdrawing his men.
For Rome, the stabilization of Libya also means a restart of projects in Libya hydrocarbons in which the country is very rich and which are fundamental to the plans to free Italy from gas supplies from Russia.
For the same reason, Egypt also plays a fundamental role in perspective. Eni – which has been operating in the country for some time – has made tremendous discoveries Gas fields in the eastern Mediterranean under Egyptian jurisdiction and completes the Damietta liquefaction plant from which the gas can be exported to Europe by ship. Last year, Eni struck an agreement with the Egyptian Petroleum Ministry that would guarantee Italy 3 billion cubic meters of blue gold per year as early as 2023.
So Tajani and Shoukry will talk about that too, because In return, Egypt is asking for technology and support to modernize its production structure, which today still largely depends on foreign imports.
The economic issue is another issue on the table. Like Tunisia, Egypt is one of the hardest hit North African countries Crisis triggered by the war in Ukraine.
Inflation is around 20%. The Egyptian pound has lost about 50% of its value against the dollar since last March. The pandemic-related tourism freeze has drained foreign exchange reserves, which the country uses to buy food imports from abroad. Shiploads of necessities get stuck in ports because there are no dollars to pay for them. Suffice it to say that Egypt is the world’s first grain importer and that bread is the foundation of the Egyptian diet.
Egypt is the most populous Arab country and one of the most populous in Africa with nearly 105 million people, a third of whom live below the poverty line.
atItaly, Cairo’s most important European trading partnerShoukry will ask for support at this delicate stage in Egypt’s economy, which needs help to deal with an unprecedented situation that risks creating a climate of deep social instability.