Tunisian President Kais Saied welcomed Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni to the Presidential Palace in Tunis on June 6 and praised her for her honesty about the situation in Tunisia, according to Arab News.
Saied said to Meloni at the beginning of a meeting, “I’m very happy to speak to you about our problems; I say it out loud, today, you are a woman who says out loud what others think in silence.”
A source from Meloni’s office reported that the pair discussed Tunisia’s bailout request of $1.9 billion from the International Monetary Fund and the possibility of Italy’s facilitation of the agreement.
The recent political crackdown against Saied’s political opponents has garnered international controversy, and makes the bailout less likely to proceed. The IMF is requiring Tunisia to carry out a list of reforms before they will agree to the full amount, but Tunisia is requesting a small installment in order to successfully complete the requirements.
Meloni said in the meeting, “The loan remains fundamental for a full recovery of the country.” She advocated for a “concrete approach of the EU so that the support to Tunisia can be increased with a substantial package of financial aid.
Meloni also promised Saied that she is “ready to come back to Tunis soon with the president of the EU Commission, Ursula von der Leyen.”
During the visit, she also discussed the problems of illegal immigration and financial insecurity with Tunisian Prime Minister Najla Bouden Romdhane.
“We are friends and we must cooperate together more and more,” Meloni said of the relationship between Italy and Tunisia. “The stabilization and the growth of democracy in Tunisia are essential for Italy. Together we can reach ambitious goals.”