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Italian Foreign Minister: Italy cooperating with International Monetary Fund to support Tunisia

ROME, ITALY - JULY 03 : Italy's Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio and his French counterpart Jean-Yves Le Drian (not seen) hold a joint press conference following their meeting on June 3, 2020 at the Farnesina Foreign Ministry in Rome, as the country eases its lockdown aimed at curbing the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19). ( Barış Seçkin - Anadolu Agency )
Italy's Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio at a joint press conference on June 3, 2020 at the Farnesina Foreign Ministry in Rome [Barış Seçkin - Anadolu Agency]

Italian Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Luigi Di Maio, said on Tuesday that his country "has acted with its partners and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to highlight the need to support Tunisia in overcoming the economic situation it is going through, which has been worsened because of the Coronavirus."

This was according to a statement issued by the Presidency of the Republic of Tunisia following a meeting held between the country's President, Kais Saied, and the Italian Minister, who will be visiting Tunisia on Tuesday to meet his Tunisian counterpart, Othman Jerandi.

For his part, Saied stressed that Tunisia relies primarily on its national capacities to overcome the current situation, but it also leans on the understanding and support of its usual partners among international donor structures and friendly countries, including Italy.

Tunisia is facing its worst financial crisis since independence in 1956, aggravated by a political crisis following "extraordinary measures" initiated by Saied by suspension of parliament on 25 July.

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The Tunisian government is struggling to borrow foreign currency due to failed negotiations with the IMF over an economic reform programme and a successive sovereign rating downgrade.

In another case, Di Maio expressed his country's authorities' "understanding" of Tunisia's position "regarding the settlement of the waste file."

In July 2020, customs authorities in the port of Sousse (east) seized 282 containers containing "toxic plastic waste" coming from Italy that did not match the worldwide waste import standards.

In a third case, Di Maio stressed that Italy agreed with Tunisia on the need to address the root causes of migration and to fight against human trafficking networks.

For his part, the Tunisian President noted that "traditional policies to manage the phenomenon of irregular migration have proven their limits".

He stressed, "the need to formulate new common perceptions that would encourage regular migration, according to mechanisms that guarantee migrants' rights".

According to a report by the Tunisian Forum for Economic and Social Rights, the number of irregular Tunisian migrants arriving in Italy since the beginning of this year until last September reached 11,000, compared to 7,961 people during the same period in 2020.

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