The contribution made by the Italian G8 Presidency, the defence of human rights, the Middle East, the crisis situation in Afghanistan, NATO and Russia, the Balkans, Africa and the reform of the UN. Without forgetting the problems linked to the growing phenomenon of immigration. These are the main headings in the balance sheet of Minister Frattini’s first year at the helm of the Italian Foreign Ministry.
THE ITALIAN G8 PRESIDENCY – The Italian Presidency’s responsibilities include the task of hosting and organising the preparatory meetings in the run-up to the 3-day Summit and, of course, the Summit itself. The priorities: global governance, fighting terrorism, protecting the environment and support for Africa and developing countries.
DEFENDING HUMAN RIGHTS – One of Italy’s key foreign policy priorities is the defence of human rights. Our country promotes: the moratorium on the death penalty, the rights of Afghan women, the rights of Christians in India and Iraq and a clear stance against racism and xenophobia. The last-named led to our decision not to take part in the Geneva Conference (Durban II).
Letter from Minister Frattini: «Italy’s decision to leave Durban II in defence of freedom of expression»
FOSTERING PEACE IN THE MIDDLE EAST – Italy’s position as Israel’s principal ally in Europe and a friend to the Arab world has made our country an important voice that is listened to in the Middle East and by the international community. Minister Frattini has reiterated on several occasions that the message conveyed by Italy – together with the European Union and in collaboration with the United States – is to observe the rules established by the Quartet (USA-EU-UN-Russia), work to create two states for two peoples and to achieve peace in a short timescale.
AFGHANISTAN/PAKISTAN, A REGIONAL DIPLOMATIC APPROACH – The need to stabilise the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan is one of Italian foreign policy’s priority concerns. In light of the reinforcement of its military and civilian commitment in Afghanistan, Italy is convinced that 2009 will be a crucial year for that region, also by virtue of its strategic importance to the foreign policy of the new American administration.
That is why Italy has decided, in the context of its duty presidency of the G8, to give the foreign ministers meeting outreach session planned for 25-27 June in Trieste a special dimension: it will be dedicated to Afghanistan and Pakistan, whose stabilisation needs to be addressed together. After the first part of the ministerial meeting, in Group of Eight format, the session will be enlarged to Afghanistan and Pakistan as well as their neighbours and other regional players.
AN 8-POINT ROAD MAP TO SPEED UP THE EURO-ATLANTIC INTEGRATION OF THE BALKANS – Minister Frattini introduced this Italian plan at the EU-USA summit in Prague. The Minister urged his European colleagues to send “visible and concrete” signs to the countries concerned (Serbia, Kosovo, Bosnia, Montenegro, Croatia and Albania).
NATO–RUSSIA, ITALY’S INPUT – To pick up the thread of the dialogue, especially during and after the Georgia crisis, Italy has helped create a more accurate perception inside and outside the Alliance of the prospects for dialogue and cooperation between NATO and Ukraine and Georgia. At the same time it has kept open the channels of dialogue with Moscow and prevented a return to former positions of opposition and the cold war climate.
UN REFORM – THE ITALIAN PROPOSAL. A UN Security Council that is “more representative and effective”, that is “ushered into the 21st century”, that recognises the “crucial stabilising role played by regional forces alongside governments” and within which Europe “whose process of integrating foreign and security policy has become advanced, can speak in a single voice”. These are some of the central themes in Italy’s proposal to the 192 members of the United Nations for reforming the UN Security Council.
AFRICA - Italy sees Africa as an important actor in finding a solution to global and regional problems. Our country also sees Africa as a potential force for stability, in light of a number of promising indicators: the strengthening of the institutions currently under way in some countries; the economic growth of recent years; the regional integration process based on the ownership principle; the definition of an economic development strategy for the Continent; the partnership with the developed world; and South-South security.
7-POINT PLAN TO COMBAT ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION – This is Minister Frattini’s proposal to the European Union’s General Affairs and External Relations Council. The Minister has called for “an effective common European framework to tackle immigration in the Mediterranean, the burden of which cannot be borne solely by the front-line countries”. As proposed by Italy the Commission should draw up the plan before the end of its mandate.
THE MFA’S CONTRIBUTION TO “SYSTEM ITALY” - The MFA’s contribution to “System Italy”: – control panel for “Italy International”, strategic committee for the development and protection of Italian economic interests and the Government-Regions agreement on international relations. These are 3 of the governance objectives the Foreign Ministry has achieved through its strategic and coordination capacity as a driving force for the development of “System Italy” and its growth abroad.
Italy provided three state flights, for the first time, to recover Italian tourists stranded in Thailand.
The MFA collaborated with foreign governments to recover and bring home kidnapped Italian nationals: two nuns in Kenya, two aid workers in Somalia, the Mumbai hostages, five tourists in Egypt, and the recent release of Piero Previdi (held in a Sudanese prison for 2 months), thanks not least to the intervention of special envoy Boniver.
Gaza crisis: 80 tons of humanitarian aid sent with two emergency flights and funded by the UN agencies United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), World Food Programme (WFP) and the World Health Organisation (WHO)
10 sick Palestinian children who were unable to find places in health facilities in Gaza were brought to Italy with their mothers for treatment in children’s hospitals in Tuscany;
a Lebanese child was treated in Padua’s city hospital;
We have considerably boosted our efforts to protect and assist Italian citizens abroad, especially in disputed child-custody cases. A guide for use in such cases, “Bambini Contesi” has been published – an important resource for parents that is intended to prevent the occurrence of international child abductions.
An interministerial task force has been set up to manage each child abduction case in a coordinated fashion. Over 50 cases have been satisfactorily resolved.
Three innovative MFA projects (administrative simplification, e-government and fighting corruption) will receive awards from Minister Brunetta at the Public Administration Forum in May 2009, as part of the “Working Together” prize.
The ministry’s web portal www.esteri.it has won a number of prizes.
The MFA was the first Italian ministry to have its own “YouTube” channel to help increase young people’s interest in and awareness of Italy’s foreign policy and the many activities of the MFA and its network abroad.
This was a year in which foreign policy was brought closer to a younger public through the Facebook social network, which enabled us to interact directly with thousands of young people.