Tunisia s Foreign Affairs Minister Nabil Ammar, talks during a joint press conference with Italy s Foreign Minister Antonio Tajani at La Farnesina Foreign Minister headquarters in Rome, Thursday, April 13, 2023. AP
Tunisia reached a deal in principle in October with the IMF for nearly $2 billion to shore up its sinking economy but the bailout still needs approval by the IMF board, which is pressing for reforms, primarily on the economy.
"Our proposal is to start financing Tunisia through the Monetary Fund, and deliver, after a first tranche, a second tranche as the reforms proceed," Tajani said after a meeting with his Tunisian counterpart, Nabil Ammar.
"But not utterly conditional on... the conclusion of the reform process. Start financing, encourage the reforms," he told reporters.
Ammar "assured me the reforms are proceeding", Tajani added.
Tunisia is heavily indebted and facing high inflation and unemployment.
In recent days, EU leaders including Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni have warned of the risks of an economic collapse which could drive more people to cross the Mediterranean Sea.
Migrants from across Africa and Tunisia itself regularly use Tunisia's coastline, less than 150 kilometres (90 miles) from the Italian island of Lampedusa, as a springboard for attempts to reach Europe.
"Sceptical or negative messages about Tunisia... do not help the Tunisian economy and fuel all the problems, including illegal migration," Ammar said Thursday in joint statements to the press.
"Helping the Tunisian economy also means fighting migration," he said.
Tunisian President Kais Saied dissolved Tunisia's government in July 2021 later suspending parliament before pushing through with a constitution that replaced the one approved in 2014 after a wave of protests hit the Middle East and North Africa collectively referred to as the Arab Spring.
As of today, Tunisia remains deeply mired in a financial crisis with the COVID-19 pandemic and the war in Ukraine dealing a hammer blow to the country's economy.
*This story was edited by Ahram Online