|Foreign Minister Paolo Gentiloni (R) and Minister of Economic |
Development Carlo Calenda (L) at the opening of the UfM
Ministerial Conference on Energy in Rome
ROME - Italian Foreign Minister Paolo Gentiloni opened the Union for the Mediterreanean (UfM) Ministerial Conference on Energy Thursday, and said that energy can help the region develop and find order.
"The awareness of the crises of the Mediterranean is evident, but there's also the chance to seize the opportunities for development, and energy is one of the greatest tools for weaving a story that brings an ordering principle back to our region," Gentiloni said.
He mentioned some of the current crises facing the Mediterranean area: "the particularly dramatic crisis in Syria, the terrorist threat, the migrant influxes that still aren't under control even if some in Europe perceive the opposite, following the March agreement with Turkey".
At the same time, he said, there must be a view "to the possibilities of economic cooperation, in a region that spans from the Middle East to the Balkans to North Africa, with growth rates of four to five percent per year, that for we Europeans are extraordinarily relevant points of contact".
He said in that sense, energy is "crucial connection tool".
"Italy is a model of connection," he said, recalling the various projects already underway - from the Transmed Pipeline with Algeria, to the Green Stream with Libya and the power lines with Greece, Malta and Montenegro - but "there's much more to do in terms of regional cooperation between countries in the area".
"There are new cards to play, thanks for example to the discovery of natural gas deposits in the eastern Mediterranean that allow for imagining economies of scale and common infrastructures," he said.
Gentiloni also spoke of the Transadriatic Pipeline connecting the Balkans as well as the challenge of renewables in Africa.
He said all of these projects have "an economic, but also political, significance, because they will constitute one of the greatest tools for weaving a story that brings an ordering principle back to our region in the coming years".