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Jordan a fundamental partner in region — Italian FM

Di Maio reiterates support for UNRWA, two-state solution

By JT - Jan 10,2021 - Last updated at Jan 10,2021

Italian Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Luigi Di Maio

AMMAN — Italian Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Luigi Di Maio arrived in Jordan for an official visit with a focus on enhancing bilateral cooperation, confirming the willingness and the commitment of Italy to support the Kingdom as a strategic partner in the region.

In an exclusive interview released on Saturday with The Jordan Times on the occasion of his visit, the Italian foreign minister talked about bilateral ties, regional developments, the issues of refugees and the Middle East peace process.


Following is the full text of the interview:


Q: What are the main objectives of your visit to the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan? 


A: The key objective of my visit to Jordan is to strengthen the bilateral partnership with a country that Italy has always considered a fundamental partner in the region, as well as an example of stability and moderation in the entire Middle East. We wish to further our collaboration in the economic, cultural and development cooperation fields, as well as strengthen the dialogue with Jordan on the main regional dossiers, beginning with the Middle East peace process in which the Kingdom plays a fundamental role. 


Q: In light of the political situation and crisis caused by the pandemic, which Jordan is suffering, can you elaborate on the role of Italy in enhancing the economic cooperation and the political support of Italy towards Jordan to help the private sector develop and access new commercial markets in Europe and elsewhere?

A: Italy strongly supports the stability and prosperity of Jordan. It is an objective we pursue bilaterally, both through our development cooperation programmes and the presence of Italian companies in the country, which operate primarily in the infrastructure, energy and telecommunications sectors. We also keep on working within Europe to foster the modernisation and development of the country’s economic and social fabric.


Q: Let’s focus on the UN Global Humanitarian Response Plan to the Syrian refugee crisis: Could you kindly describe the Italian commitment to support Jordan and to solve the crisis, deteriorated due to COVID 19?


A: First of all, I would like to say that we are fully aware of the immense and very commendable efforts made by the Jordanian government and civil society to welcome the large number of Syrians seeking refuge in the country since 2011. Unfortunately, the Syrian crisis is ongoing and the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic are worsening an already extremely problematic situation. This requires the solidarity and support of the entire international community, obviously including Italy, which will continue to do its utmost in this regard. We have demonstrated this at the fourth Brussels Conference by reaffirming our commitment, for 2021 as well, to fund grants in response to the crisis with 45 million euros per year, both in Syria and in the neighbouring countries, including, of course, Jordan.


Q: What is the Italian perspective on UNRWA, especially in terms of assistance provided to Palestinians refugees? What are the political, economic and moral forms of Italian support to UNRWA?


A: Italy strongly supports the work of UNRWA, because we believe it plays a fundamental role in meeting the basic needs of Palestinian refugees. We have contributed to its operations through funding of development and emergency initiatives and of the organisation's overheads for a total of 13.3 million euros in 2018, 11.7 million euros in 2019 and 17.59 million euros in 2020.


Q: Can you describe the Italian stance regarding the Palestinian cause and the two-state solution?


A: We have welcomed the signing of the Abraham Accords and Israel's process of rapprochement with some Arab countries. We believe that these developments will contribute to bringing stability and peace in the Middle East. However, we are also aware that to achieve lasting peace in the region we need to revive the peace process, on the basis of a just, sustainable, realistic and directly negotiated two-state solution between the parties, which Italy continues to strongly support.


Q: Italy holds the 2021 G20 Presidency. Could you please highlight its priorities?


A: The priorities of the Italian Presidency are summed up by the so-called three "Ps": "People", with a focus on education, the future of work and the fight against inequalities; "Planet", to strengthen the circular economy and the transition to renewables; "Prosperity", with emphasis laid on digitalisation and issues related to international trade. We will also focus on the international response to the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly with regard to the implementation of common strategies for vaccine development and availability. In this regard, I would like to point out that we have invited Jordan to participate in the works of the Italian G20 Presidency within the Trade and Investment Working Group (TIWG) and the G20 Trade Ministers Meeting.


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