Italian Prime Minister calls for closer ties between Mediterranean countries

ROME, May 13 (Xinhua) — Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi said on Friday he wants to deepen ties with Mediterranean countries and help balance trade among the 22 countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea.

Speaking at the Ambrosetti Forum’s ‘Verso Sub’ (Going South) rally in Sorrento, part of southern Italy’s metropolis Naples, most of Draghi’s remarks were aimed at ways to help development of the less economically developed southern regions of Italy. .

But the Prime Minister also spoke of the need to strengthen ties in the Mediterranean region. Draghi said Italy would spend around 1.5 billion euros (US$1.6 billion) to upgrade southern Italian seaports to further promote trans-Mediterranean trade.

He spoke of improving access to food, which was hampered during the Russian-Ukrainian conflict and threatened “stability in Africa and the Middle East”.

He also focused on energy after Italy signed new energy supply deals with Algeria and Egypt as the country sought to wean itself off Russian gas supplies.

“We need to strengthen energy cooperation between Mediterranean countries,” Draghi said. “We want to be part of the energy transition of the whole region.”

“We must also accelerate the development of renewable energies to improve the sustainability of our production model,” he added.

Draghi said that about 90% of trade in the Mediterranean is between members of the European Union, while only 9% is between European countries and those on the southern shore of the Mediterranean and only 1% between countries. from the southern shore of the sea. He said investments in the region would help those numbers become less lopsided.