Berlusconi views extraordinary future for Mediterranean relations

10:34, July 13, 2010      

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Mediterranean relations offer huge opportunities for all countries in the area, Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi said on Monday at the opening of the Euro-Mediterranean conference in Milan.

Attended by ministers from nearly 30 Mediterranean countries and over 500 businessmen, the two-day forum is aimed at producing concrete initiatives for the economic development of the basin through integration.

Speaking at the forum, Berlusconi said that his government aims at bringing countries from all shores of the Mediterranean closer than ever.

"There is the possibility of developing extraordinary relations, " he said, adding that he particularly likes to chat with other leaders by phone, in order to build friendly relations and remove the barriers posed by bureaucracy.

Trade in the area involves 600 million consumers and is worth about 250 billion euros a year.

In her speech, the president of Italy's industrial association Confindustria, Emma Marcegaglia, supported the idea of a Mediterranean free trade zone, which has been on the table for a number of years.

"We are looking forward to creating a single market without duties or protectionist taxes, which would be a development opportunity for Italy and all countries in the area," she said.

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