Algeria is one the biggest State of Africa. It is bathed in the north by the Mediterranean Sea, making it a relevant territory for relations between all the countries of the south. As often happens in the African context, the Algerian land has lived moments of great instability and uncertainty, until when, in 2019, massive protests started by the population against the possibility of a new candidacy of then-President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, in office since 1999.
After this tumultuous period, the country began its slow recovery, despite critical issues arising from the pandemic and the more recent energy crisis. At this stage, therefore, it is crucial to establish international relations with partners of some importance, as in the case of China and Russia, which, in general, have significantly increased their presence in Africa.
But, due to geographical and historical issues, the fundamental need for a strong and solid relationship with the European State members cannot be underestimated. Especially among those closest to us.
And that is why the visit to Algeria by the Italian Prime Minister, Giorgia Meloni, last January 22 and 23 assumes fundamental importance for the building of a solid and consistent relationship between the two countries that, back in 2003, had already signed the Treaty of Friendship, Cooperation and Good Neighborliness.
Two countries that are represent the interests from different areas, but somehow, they look at a common goal, in the name of a collaboration in terms of economy and energy, that are decisive now more than ever.
A collaboration that is necessary so that we can counter problems that cannot be addressed or even solved unilaterally, but which need joint action.
During the meeting that took place between President Meloni and President Abdelmadjid Tebboune, Rome and Algiers were aligned on the need to strengthen the relationship between industrial, aerospace, digital, naval cooperation, and of course the energy themes.
One of the hottest topics that has emerged since this meeting, and one that continues to be reported on newspapers, is that relating to Italy's willingness to field a Mattei Plan for Africa.
However, it is necessary, first of all, to explain what is really meant by this term, and what are the roots behind this idea.
The reference, as can be well guessed, is to the action that Enrico Mattei, founder of Eni, put in place after World War II. As reported on the company's own website, “Mattei managed to build a mythical aura around his figure. He was skillful in establishing a network of collaborators capable of moving on the international scene, and this became one of the strengths that the company, beyond its specific interests, was able to offer to Italy's diplomatic action. He was among the first to cultivate a frontier spirit and respect for different cultures. Mattei was clear that it was not possible to make international strategy without knowing well the individual territories on which one was going to explore. For years Eni diversity was something of an exception, a company that made choices different from those of most of its competitors, so much so that it defied common sense. Mattei was the symbol of a way of thinking about Italy, visionary enough to succeed in transforming a defeated and peasant nation into an advanced country with a strong energy industry. A way of thinking and acting hindered by numerous opponents to the nationalization of the energy industry, internal and external.”
Therefore, Meloni government intends to implement “a virtuous model of collaboration and growth between the European Union and African nations.”
Fratelli d'Italia party is therefore committed to give a concrete and coherent implementation of the program presented at the last general election. Which, as of today, it is not something that should be taken for granted.
In these circumstances, the accusations made by a part of the press, which even speaks of an “out-of-time colonialism that cannot work,” are definitely out of place, as the key words of the Mattei formula for Africa are quite different, since it is a model that, among other things, intends to establish equal cooperation that can bring benefits to both partners, by helping each other having the chance to transform crises into opportunities for revitalization.
There is no doubt that what has happened in Algeria in recent days is a fundamental first step for Italian foreign policy, the main focus of which is to protect the national interest through the development of a cooperation that always maintains the characteristics of respect for the environment, peoples and their cultures.
It is an event that confirms, once again, the importance of international relations, which are at the center of the attentions of this government, so that they can be improved and implemented in the name of the wealth of Italy, and also in order to recover the strategic role in the Mediterranean that has long not belonged to us, and so that Italy is increasingly ready and able to face the challenges of our time.