Italian Prime Minister, Giorgia Meloni has arrived in Algeria for a two-day visit as the two countries seek to strengthen their strategic partnership and Italy works to wean itself off Russian energy with the help of the gas-rich North African country.
Meloni’s arrival was announced on Algerian state television without photos or fanfare.
Meloni’s first stop, as with all high-ranking visitors, was to lay a wreath at the Martyrs’ Monument. The monument, located on a hilltop overlooking the capital, honours Algerians who died in the fight for independence from France in 1962.
The Italian leader will also pay a visit to an Italian naval ship docked in Algiers.
Algeria has replaced Russia as Italy’s No. 1 energy supplier and Rome is looking to boost that partnership. However, topics such as naval construction, cars and start-ups were said to be on Meloni’s agenda, a sign the two countries might deeper their cooperation.
The Russia-Ukraine conflict, which upset global strategic and economic dynamics, gave a new and urgent dimension to ties between Algiers and Italy, long dependent on Russian energy. Other European Union nations also have scrambled to find sources of replacement for Russian energy.
Italy and Algeria want to build on then-Premier Mario Draghi’s successful initiatives last year to boost Algerian energy supplies to Italy and, an Algerian diplomat said, “push beyond that.”
An initial deal last year concluded by Draghi added 9 billion cubic meters of gas by 2023-2024 to be sent via the Trans-Mediterranean pipeline. Months later, in July, a $4 billion agreement between the companies Eni, the Italian energy company, Occidental and Total was concluded.
Eni CEO Claudio Descalzi was to be among those in the Italian delegation accompanying Meloni
Meloni’s visit to Algiers is the third in less than a year by an Italian premier, but considerably more low-key than that of her predecessor and it has been described as “an opportunity to strengthen the Algiers-Rome axis” and another step “to consolidate the building of a true strategic partnership.”
This story was adapted from AfricaNews.