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Italy to provide $760m to support vital sectors in Tunisia

'Better a pig than a fascist' read the sign of Tunisian protesters, presumably in reference to Tunisia's leader Kais Saied and Italy's Georgia Meloni who have gained notoriety for their anti-immigrant speeches. This comes against the backdrop of a meeting between the two leaders in the Tunisian capital to discuss an aid package for Tunisia and the growing pressure on the North African country to accept an IMF loan.

June 7, 2023 at 10:30 am

Italian Prime Minister Georgia Meloni announced that Rome would allocate €700 million ($763 million) to support priority livelihood sectors in Tunisia.

This came in a speech by Meloni following her meeting with Tunisian President Kais Saied on Tuesday at the Carthage Palace, as reported by Anadolu Agency.

The funds, she explained, will target essential sectors such as health and services “while fully respecting the sovereignty of the Tunisian state.”

She stated that Italy is working towards an agreement between Tunisia and the International Monetary Fund that considers Tunisia’s economic and social realities.

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President Kais Saied reiterated his rejection of being dictated to as to how funds can be spent, noting that “those who offer ready-made solutions are like a doctor who prescribes medication before diagnosing the illness.”

Meloni emphasised that “it is necessary to adopt a realistic approach that enables Tunisia to access financing opportunities from the European Union.”

She added, “More than 900 Italian companies are active in Tunisia… There is a new collaboration in the energy sector through the ‘Elmed’ project [the electrical interconnection between Tunisia and Italy] that connects the Mediterranean shores.”

On Tuesday, Meloni embarked on a “friendship and work” visit to Tunisia, following an invitation from Saied, according to a statement from the presidency.

Tunisia is grappling with a severe economic crisis exacerbated by the repercussions of the COVID-19 pandemic and the ongoing Russian war on Ukraine.

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