The Italian Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Luigi Di Maio, paid a visit to Ethiopia on Sunday and Monday (12-13 June). During his visit, Minister Di Maio had the opportunity to meet with the Prime Minister H.E. Abiy Ahmed, the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, H.E. Demeke Mekonnen, and the Executive Secretary of IGAD, H.E. Workneh Gebeyehu among others.
Thanking for the very warm welcome he received, Minister Di Maio highlighted the long-standing relations between Italy and Ethiopia, which are characterized by rooted bonds of friendship and deep cooperation, uniting the people of the two Countries in a multi-faceted partnership. The Minister, together with the Ethiopian Authorities, convened on the importance to work intensively to enhance the collaboration in the political economic, cultural and development fields. Our common goal is to deepen the existing ties, in order to create new areas of cooperation between more integrated, resilient and sustainable societies. Minister Di Maio confirmed that Ethiopia, as a priority country for Italian Cooperation, is one of the largest beneficiaries of the Italian Official Development Assistance. Today, the Italian Cooperation has more than 60 development projects underway in Ethiopia, with 84 million Euro grants and 118 million Euro over nine credit lines.
With the Prime Minister and the Deputy Prime Minister, Minister Di Maio stressed the importance of the pivotal role of Ethiopia for the stability of the Region, encouraging to build upon the most recent positive steps in order to restore confidence and reach peace in Northern Ethiopia. Italy appreciates and supports the commendable efforts to facilitate dialogue by the AU Special Envoy, Olsegun Obasanjo, the EU Special Representative, Annette Weber, and all major stakeholders.
Italy is aware of the challenging socio-economic juncture in broader Ethiopia. Food security in particular is spreading throughout the whole African continent. Minister Di Maio recalled that Italy has long been advocating for stronger international cooperation on food security and nutrition, recalling the efforts of the Italian G20 Presidency last year, and in coordination with the UN for the Food Systems pre-Summit and Summit. Minister Di Maio reaffirmed that Italy will not leave African partners and friends alone to face this challenge, which is aggravated by the war in Ukraine, and will step up efforts with European and G7 partners. In this context, Minister Di Maio highlighted that the Italian priority is to find immediate solutions to the food crisis and to start a long-term cooperation, to promote more sustainable food and agricultural systems.
With the Minister of Finance H.E. Ahmed Shide, Minister Di Maio signed the Italy-Ethiopia agreement worth 22 million Euro for the initiative: “Building integrated agro-industrial parks of Bulbula, Bure, Yergalem and Ba’eker”. Through this agreement, Italy will be supporting industrial parks throughout Ethiopia in the agricultural sector, to favor a business-oriented approach integrated with the territory, by adding high local value in a view to promote sustainable Ethiopian Agro-Industrial development. The agreement is part of the bilateral cooperation with Ethiopia for bolstering productive assets.