The Italian Prime Minister, Mr Paolo Gentiloni, has called for strong partnership between the youth of Europe and Africa.

He said as one of the closest European countries to Africa, Italy had the ambition to strengthen its role as a bridge between the two continents – favouring the exchange of knowledge, experience, technical knowhow, access, as well as investments follows.

Mr Gentiloni made the appeal on Tuesday, when he delivered a lecture at the Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Centre (KAIPTC) in Accra.

The Prime Minister, who is on a two-day state visit to Ghana, was received by Air-Vice Marshal Griffiths S. Evans, the Commandant of the KAIPTC.

He said Italy would work together with its African partners for their mutual benefits.

“A new partnership for lasting peace and security, for strengthening governance, for long term investment, for better managed mobility and migration. In one word, a partnership for the youth,” he said.

He said Africa faced many challenges and to address them effectively, it was key to have regional and inter-regional cooperation.

He said Africa stood at a cross road, where it was faced with challenges and threats such as instability, trafficking of human beings, the rise of terrorists and violence while on the other side it was a continent of extraordinary opportunities.

He said the perspective for a better future for Africa could come true if the continent could succeed in making the best possible use of its most precious resource being, its youth.

“There are currently, 250 million people in Africa age between 15 and 29. And the youth grows at a rate which is expected to double in the next 30 years.

“To unleash their potentials, young people must be provided with peace, democracy, human and civil rights and jobs,” he said.

The Prime Minister said the many challenges and threats, coupled with unfair social inequalities were serious hindrances to the consolidation of democratic institutions on the Continent, as well as its development.

Mr Gentiloni said an increased level of security could be a powerful enabler for economic, social and cultural development; adding that there was a strong connection between stability, security, potential, social and economic development.

He said this also undermined the economic gains that Africa had made in recent times.

“On the basis of this connection we strongly believe in the fundamental role of peacekeeping missions in bringing peace and security and in protecting civilians in conflict affected situations,” he said.

“For this reason, Italy has pledged peacekeeping among the main priorities of its mandate as a member of the UN Security Council.”

He said Italy promoted the amendment of UN Missions Mandates with the aim of including measures that could offset the burden of new challenges such as the disorderly follow of migrants, climate change, human trafficking, and threats to cultural and historical heritages; adding that “These are new challenges for our peacekeeping activities.”

He said: “As one of the founding signatories of the Kigali Principles for the Protection of Civilians, Italy advocates that children, who are the most vulnerable group from threats, remain protected under UN Peacekeeping Mandate”.

On cultural protection, he said Italy promoted the first ever UN Security Council Resolution on Cultural Heritage, which was adopted last March.

“We deem it crucial to train peacekeepers to protect people, key values and principles, so that mandates can be effectively deliver on the ground and UN’s credibility and reputation is defended,” he said.

“And facilities like this training centre, purposely dedicated to Kofi Annan are therefore, vital.”

He assured Ghana and Africa that Italy was on their side in addressing these challenges.

Mr Gentiloni lauded Ghana’s role in UN Peacekeeping in Africa and across the globe.

He said the Italian Armed Forces had delivered training programmes to the police forces of many African countries to tackle terrorism and illicit trafficking.

He said Italy was the first contributor to the Blue Helmet within the Western Group and also one of the major financial contributors.

He said since 2005, Italy had been training thousands of Blue Helmet staff at its centre of excellence.

Meanwhile, Mr Gentiloni planted a tree seedling at the Centre to commemorate his visit.

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