Mediterranean central to our foreign policy and the EU presidency, says new Italian Premier Renzi

Italian Premier Matteo Renzi (pictured) on Tuesday reiterated that he will place the Mediterranean at the center of his foreign policy agenda.

“This centrality will be the fundamental point of our foreign and territorial policy and of Italy’s EU presidency”, Renzi said at a joint press conference with Tunisian Premier Mehdi Jomaa on what is his first foreign mission as premier.

“The Mediterranean will not be a border, but the center of Europe”, Renzi said.

“The coming months will make it clear that our EU presidency will not just be a matter of institutional or economic affairs, but also a phase of ideals, values and hopes”, the young premier went on.

“The Mediterranean will be the home” of such hopes, he said.

Italy and Tunisia plan to strengthen their bilateral cooperation on immigration issues. He and Jomaa discussed “patrolling international waters in the Mediterranean Basin”, Renzi explained.

In an earlier meeting with women’s groups representatives in the Tunisian capital, Renzi met with Tunisian blogger Lina Ben Mhenni, whom he quoted along with the late Nelson Mandela in a speech challenging former Democratic Party chief Pier Luigi Bersani during the 2012 primaries. “I cited you as a role model”, Renzi told the blogger.

“I lost those primaries, but I did win after that,” he added with a smile.

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What on earth does this mean? The Mediterranean will not be a border? He wants to extend the EU to North Africa?  I cannot figure out the Italians.  They have no anti-immigrant party, except the Northern League, which as the name suggests, is in northern Italy.  Southern Italy has a quite different culture.  And apparently, is not concerned with lots of Muslims.

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