On one condition… Italy is ready to receive more “legal immigrants” than Egypt

On Sunday, Italian Foreign Minister Antonio Tajani held talks with Egyptian officials and the Arab League in Cairo, which focused on regional security and the conflict in neighboring Libya, in addition to sensitive bilateral issues.

Tajani said that he raised with the Egyptian President the case of Giulio Regeni, an Italian graduate student who was kidnapped, tortured and killed in Cairo in 2016, and the case of Patrick George Zaki, an Egyptian activist studying in Bologna, who had been arrested. for nearly two years.

“I asked for and received assurances of strong cooperation in the cases of Regeni and Zaki,” Tajani wrote on Twitter. Later in the day, he said in a joint press conference with Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry that Cairo was “ready to remove barriers” to resolving the two issues. He did not elaborate.

Tajani said his meeting with President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi also dealt with energy security and economic cooperation in the Mediterranean, but focused “above all” on political instability in Libya and efforts to stop “irregular migration” from that country.

The Italian Foreign Minister also met with the Secretary-General of the League of Arab States, Ahmed Aboul Gheit.

The Regeni case destabilized Cairo’s relations with Rome, as Regeni’s family and the Italian authorities accused the Egyptian security forces of torturing and killing him.

The Egyptian security services denied any involvement in Regeni’s abduction or death.

Regeni, 28, was a PhD student at Cambridge University researching labor movements in Egypt when he was kidnapped on January 25, 2016.

His body was found on the side of the road several days later bearing signs of extensive torture.

Meanwhile, Zaki was released in December 2021 pending trial on charges of spreading false news about Egypt, both internally and externally, and he has not been able to travel since his release.

Zaki’s arrest and trial made headlines in Italy and sparked a wave of student protests there. For many Italians, his arrest was a reminder of Regeni’s death.

Tajani said that his trip to Egypt and before that to Tunisia, and the visit of Italian Prime Minister Georgia Meloni to Algeria, are part of his country’s efforts to strengthen its energy-related relations in the region and, most importantly, to eliminate the flow of migrants across the Mediterranean to Europe.

“One must do more because for us the issue of energy is of extraordinary importance,” he said. “Energy costs are so high that they cannot remain competitive, even within the European Union.”

Egypt, which hosts more than 6 million migrants, has for years promoted its efforts to prevent migrant boats from leaving its shores.

But in 2022, Egyptian migrants are among the most numerous nationalities to reach European shores by first traveling through neighboring Libya before making perilous sea journeys.

“Finding a solution to the problem of Libya is part of the solution to the problem of irregular migration,” the Italian foreign minister said, adding that Italy might receive “more legal migrants,” including from Egypt, if illegal crossings are controlled.

Libya has become a center for African and Middle Eastern migrants seeking to travel to Europe, with Italy receiving tens of thousands annually.

Rome has struck agreements with the authorities in the Libyan capital, Tripoli, in recent years in an effort to stem the flow of migrants.

Libya plunged into chaos when a NATO-backed uprising toppled longtime dictator Muammar Gaddafi and killed him.

Currently, the country is divided between two rival administrations, both of which claim legitimacy.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *