Italy has ‘high expectations’ for Saudi, Middle East green initiatives: Italian deputy foreign minister

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Updated 24 October 2021

Italy has ‘high expectations’ for Saudi, Middle East green initiatives: Italian deputy foreign minister

Italy has ‘high expectations’ for Saudi, Middle East green initiatives: Italian deputy foreign minister
  • Manlio Di Stefano calls for more EU funding of Middle Eastern green energy schemes

ROME: Italy had “high expectations” about the Saudi Green Initiative and Middle East Green Initiative events in Riyadh along with the Kingdom’s engagement in green energy production, a leading Italian MP has said.

Manlio Di Stefano will be representing his government at the Middle East Green Initiative Summit being held in the Saudi capital, and he told Arab News that his country attached “a lot of importance to this event.”

The 40-year-old Italian undersecretary (deputy minister) for foreign affairs and international cooperation is from the Five Star Movement, the populist party founded by comedian Beppe Grillo which has been central to the last three years of coalition government in Italy.

After graduating in computer engineering in Sicily, Di Stefano worked as an IT consultant for an American company and was a volunteer for an Italian NGO operating in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Guatemala working on sustainable development projects.

He said: “We believe this is the time where at a global level every country has to put some effort into engaging with climate change.”

The politician pointed out that promoting green energy was a “means to create a market, to create infrastructure, to create the storytelling about climate change, where it is taking place, and the solutions to tackle it.

“This event in Riyadh will be focused on how to tackle the situation with solutions and therefore we’re ready to support it,” he added.

Di Stefano noted that Italy was one of the leading European countries in terms of its energy production links with the Middle East and North Africa region and said the EU should provide more funding to Middle Eastern countries, such as Egypt, to help finance environmental protection schemes.

He added that Italy and Egypt had collaborated on a number of projects and that the strategic interconnection was important to his country.

“We have to work more with countries that can generate renewable energy in the future. We have a lot of projects going on in northern Africa and Middle Eastern countries for energy production.

“And we think that Italy could play a strategic role in that, because we can really bridge the MENA region with the northern part of Europe, where there may not be so many green energy capabilities.

“Saudi Arabia, and this has been stated very clearly by that government, is really pushing a lot on green energy production, and Italy is at the forefront with our own industries,” he said.

Di Stefano expected cooperation between Italy and Saudi Arabia, already strong through the G20 Troika, to develop further.

“I think we can do more because there is a huge complementarity among our countries which sometimes is undervalued. We are obviously really set on European values and market characteristics, and we ask for the same understanding when we deal with other countries. Nonetheless, this is a bilateral relationship that is fundamental for us.

“Saudi Arabia is one of the most important countries in the MENA region, and Italy already has good cases of cooperation, such as in the G20. When we come together at the table, we are talking the same language,” he added.