Italy’s far right activates its “Rome Process” to block irregular migration from Tunisia


Italy’s far right, led by Georgia Meloni and Matteo Salvini, is launching the “Rome Process” to block the arrival of migrants in Europe and convince its sovereignist friends to act as Europe’s border guards in return for payment.

The “International Conference on Development and Migration” was organised in the Italian capital, Rome.

Meloni needed this conference to improve his image with his electorate and to make people forget his domestic political setbacks and the ever-increasing number of landings that even the sovereignist right is unable to contain.

Today’s guest of honour is Tunisian President Saïed, the protagonist of an authoritarian turn in Tunisia and also the focus of fierce criticism for the management and deportation of migrants to the Libyan desert.

Tunisian head of state and Italian head of government shake hands. ©AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia

Also present were European executives Ursula von der Leyen and Charles Michel. The former, in particular, is spending a lot of money to maintain a good relationship with the Italian Prime Minister, which could make a major contribution to his re-election as head of the Commission in 2024, a post also coveted by the Dutchman Mark Rutte, or at NATO.

Two major Mediterranean partners, France and Spain, are absent (13 European member states are left out of the Meloni plan in Tunisia). Their leaders are not particularly fond of the Italian extreme right, while the Cypriot President was present.

As for the Greeks, they sent the Minister for Migration, while the Turks preferred to send their Minister for Foreign Affairs rather than Erdogan, probably because of the position of Palazzo Chigi on the issue of Ankara’s entry into Europe.

The guest of honour of the Italian far right was Tunisian President Kaïs Saied. She met him before the start of the conference (the fourth face-to-face meeting in less than two months).

And from the Tunisian leader comes the usual approach, a mixture of acceleration and warnings: This is the start of a journey”, he says. He added: “We will not have stability if there is no justice and if we do not seek solutions to the causes of this injustice, this human tragedy of migration.”

Kaïs Saïed also criticised the policy of the West, namely France, towards Africa, and called for the cancellation of the debts of the continent’s countries and for donors to create an international fund to support these countries.

However, Tunis is desperate and is waiting for European funds and is calling for the release of those frozen by the International Monetary Fund.

Other key representatives include Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, head of the United Arab Emirates, Libyan leaders and the prime ministers of Egypt, Ethiopia, Algeria, Niger, Jordan and Lebanon.

It is worth noting the now consolidated change in Meloni’s language and arguments, resulting mainly from the failure of the promise to block migrant landings. Also due to the instability of the regions of origin of the flows and the countries of transit (in particular Tunisia and Libya), arrivals have surged.

Meloni is therefore banking everything on the Mattei plan – which has in fact been renamed the “Rome Process” – and promises a “dialogue between equals” between the countries bordering the Mediterranean. It reaffirms the need for legal migration and a relentless fight against illegal trafficking.

And finally, it sends a signal to Europe: “Supporting refugees and displaced persons is a duty that no one can shirk. Those fleeing wars and disasters have the right to be rescued. But this right cannot automatically lead to the right to be welcomed everywhere. It is therefore a duty of solidarity to step up economic support for those who find themselves having to take in more refugees”.

This is a message that the Prime Minister is addressing primarily to her conservative partners on the continental right, led by the Poles, who are hostile to the economic solidarity mechanism designed by Brussels for maritime border countries.

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