Algerian-Italian rapprochement bolstered by deterioration of relations with Spain

Mohamed Meslem English Version: Med.B.

Italy is working to strengthen its economic and energy relations with Algeria, as it is the first partner in terms of gas supply, whenever the crisis in Algerian-Spanish relations becomes more complicated. This trend was embodied in the statements made by the Italian, Vania Gaffa, Deputy Minister of Environment and Energy Security, in the government of Georgia Meloni.
The Italian minister, Vania Gaffa, represented her country at the Seventh Summit of Heads of Government of the Forum of Gas Exporting Countries, from 29 February to 2 March 2024, in Algeria, and wrote a series of “tweets” on the platform “X”, previously “Twitter” on her account, through which she expressed her country’s conviction that “dialogue between gas producers and consumers is the best way to achieve energy security and transition”.
Since the outbreak of the diplomatic crisis between Algeria and Madrid, about two years ago, Italy has been the European country that has benefited the most from this crisis, as evidenced by the exchange of visits between Algerian officials and their Italian counterparts over the past two years.
These visits culminated in the signing of numerous agreements in the field of energy, which made Rome an exclusive center for the distribution of Algerian gas in the old continent.
Before the outbreak of the complex crisis that shook relations between Algeria and Madrid due to the latter’s biased position on the Sahrawi issue in favor of the Moroccan regime, Spain was the center for the distribution of Algerian gas in Europe, as it received Algerian gas from two pipelines, the Maghreb-European pipeline and Medgas, which has been out of service since November 2021 by decision of Algeria after severing its relations with the Moroccan regime. Madrid spent many billions of euros to prepare a huge infrastructure to store and dilute Algerian gas before redistributing it.
Confirming the changes that are taking place in the Algerian position towards Spain in a direction that serves Italy, the Italian Minister, who was the guest of honor at the Algerian Gas Summit, said: “Italy is strongly present in the energy challenge. We cannot miss this date”, in a session with the agency “Nova”, praising the efforts of her country’s rapprochement with Algeria.
Vania Gaffa also said that “Algeria, which has promised to contribute one billion euros to Enrico Mattei’s plan, will play an important role in making Italy an energy hub and a real bridge between Europe and Africa,” noting that Italy is the only Western country invited as guest of honor to the summit of the International Forum of Gas Exporters in Algeria.
The plan of Enrico Mattei, a friend of the Algerian revolution and the father and founder of the energy industry in Italy, aims to “finance joint Italian-Algerian cooperation projects in African countries, especially in the Sahel region,” which is also an important bet for Algeria given the challenges it faces.
According to the Italian official, the “Transmed” gas pipeline, considered the first of its kind this year, which connects Algeria to Italy via Tunisian territory, “has made Italy an energy center because of the gas that will be transported to Austria and Germany,” and this is an endeavor that Rome will continue to work on. Accordingly, the Italian Minister for the Environment, Energy Security and Transition praised the partnership between Sonatrach and its Italian counterpart, Eni.