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G8: military protection in counter-piracy missions, says Terzi – Arab Spring, “let’s not wait until the fall comes”

At the G8 meeting in Washington on 11 and 12 April, “I will remind my colleagues of the urgent need to protect our troops deployed in counter-piracy missions”, asserted Minister Giulio Terzi, who will be participating on those days in the G8 Foreign Ministers’ Meeting in the United States, not least in relation to the case of the two Italian marines being detained in India. The G8 will also be discussing Europe’s greater involvement in the Arab Spring and Middle East.

“Let’s not wait until the fall comes”, was the title of an article by the minister for the prominent UN on-line newspaper “Huffington Post”. The article dealt with the challenges yet to be met after the Arab spring revolutions, and urged Europe to do more to allow for “completion of the democratic process that began over a year ago in Arab squares”.

Europe must do more

“Overcoming the severe political and economic stresses that still gravely weighs on the region is crucial in answering the demands that brought millions of people, mostly young, to the Arab squares” Terzi writes, underscoring how the need for a greater commitment in the Mediterranean region was one of the Monti government’s and the European Union’s priorities. The foreign minister pointed out, in particular, the EU’s pledge to increase neighbourhood policy funding to €18.1 billion, which includes support for the Mediterranean. But, his analysis continues, more must be done in order “to build a “Euro-Mediterranean house” and create a solid framework for peace and security in a region which is rapidly turning from an area of influence into an almost “domestic” one”, indicating resumption of the peace process and the involvement of Turkey as two indispensable pre-requisites.

The importance of placing a shared accent on the Mediterranean and on the Middle East is confirmed by unfolding events: as the G8 foreign ministers meet in the American, the eyes of the world turn once again to developments in Syria. Indeed, as the hours pass, expectations mount regarding Damascus’ reponse to the Kofi Annan-brokered plan for a government troop withdrawal starting tomorrow and a ceasefire on both sides by 6 a.m. on the 12th.

International events

Moreover, the US summit is taking place only hours before the 5+1 (US, UK, France, Russia, China + Germany)meeting on the Iranian nuclear question set for 14 April in Istanbul – an important first round organised, after painstaking preparations, with the hope of achieving concrete progress. The G8 ministers will also discuss emergencies in Africa , in Sudan, Mali and Nigeria, where the violence against religious minorities is alarming. Terzi also intends to raise the theme of counter-piracy with his G8 colleagues, underscoring the importance of close coordination based on compliance with international law, a lasting commitment for Italy’s recently thrust into the limelight with the detention of two Italian marines in India. And the Washington meeting could not neglect the political developments in Burma with the recent electoral victory of Aung San Suu Kyi, defined the “woman symbol” of the struggle for democracy. Terzi is among the first Western foreign ministers to announce a visit to that Asian country, scheduled for 24 April, where he will meet with Aung San Suu Kyi the day after her investiture in parliament.