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Somalia – Contact Group (Farnesina) – The constitution must respect human rights and religious minorities, says Terzi

“Our goal is the application of the road map that gives the Somali people new and legitimate institutions”. These were the words of Foreign Minister Giulio Terzi as he opened the Contact Group on Somalia meeting at the Foreign Ministry here in Rome in the run-up to the conclusion of the transition on 20 August 2012. “We need to work for a peaceful, sustainable future because too much blood has already been spilt”, said Terzi. “The time has come to put personal interests to one side and give priority to the collective interest”.

Terrorism and piracy can only be defeated by controlling the territory

One of the main challenges to be overcome is piracy, and “Italy and the African Union are working on a training course for the Somali police, to be administered by the carabinieri”. Terrorism and piracy can only be defeated “if the Somali security forces control the territory effectively, and Italy can help them move in this direction”, said Terzi.

The Minister noted “the Somali authorities’ direct input in the latest anti-piracy and counter-terrorism operations, like those that led to the liberation of Bruno Pellizzari and his wife and the humanitarian operators kidnapped in Kenya”. Terzi described these as “encouraging signals. We need to keep up the pressure, in the awareness that piracy is a huge challenge that must be fought on the ground, in the safe havens, in the places from which it springs”.

New constitution

The conclusion of the transition will necessarily involve a new constitution, the draft of which was approved by key Somali stakeholders on 22 June 2012. For Terzi, the new constitution must be inspired by “the rule of law, consolidated parliamentary mechanisms and above all the principles of protecting human rights and religious minorities. It must”, he added, “be decided on by all members of Somali society, and it is important that they are all represented, individually and collectively” with standards of tolerance like those envisaged by the UN, the EU and the African Union.

Then will come the key period of reconstruction and economic development. “The Somali economy is experiencing a renaissance but to boost growth the infrastructure needs to be repaired and up-graded”, underscored the Foreign Minister. “Italy”, he explained, “is already funding a number of programmes in this field and we hope that the international community will coordinate further initiatives”.

Italy is also engaged in protecting Somalia’s cultural heritage “for the national renaissance and to forge a common identity. As a tribute to the Somali people, on 3 July Italy will be presenting a new Somali dictionary produced by the Roma Tre University”.

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