Italy once again takes centre stage in international diplomacy’s quest for a solution to the Syrian crisis. The spotlight will be on Rome on 28 February for the meeting of the “Closed Ministerial Meeting on Syria” organized by the Italian foreign ministry at the request of US Secretary of State John Kerry (in Rome as of Wednesday 27), which 11 of the countries most involved in managing the Syrian crisis are to attend. The aim will be to convince the Syrian opposition, which announced its intention to boycott the meeting after the latest massacre of over 30 children on Friday in Aleppo in a rocket attack by government forces. “We are not going to Rome just to talk, but to make decisions” on the Syrian crisis, Kerry was quoted as saying in London, who urged the Syrian opposition to take part in the meeting.
Technical assistance and training
Italy and the countries of Europe will meet in Rome to urge the United States’ greater flexibility on measures in favour of the opposition to the Assad regime. They will be asking, in particular, that “non-lethal” aid be extended to include technical assistance and training so as to consolidate the coalition’s efforts in the light of what emerged at the latest meeting of the EU Foreign Affairs Council.
Terzi: launching a credible political process
On the diplomatic front, efforts are under way to generate dialogue between the regime and the opposition. Italy, Minister Giulio Terzi explained, “reiterates its solidarity with the Syrian people and its hopes that a credible political process based on the proposals by the National Coalition of Syrian Opposition Forces, which it recognizes as the only legitimate representative of the Syrian people, will lead to a speedy end to the conflict and transition to democracy and the rule of law”.
Human rights: UN Commissioner Pillay criticizes Security Council
The consequences on the human rights front remain dramatic. UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay denounced the Security Council’s inability to bring the case before the International Criminal Court, “despite repeated reports of violations and widespread crime from my office, the International Commission of Inquiry on Syria, civil society organizations and UN experts”.
New Italian humanitarian interventions
In recent days the Italian Cooperation sent a new load of humanitarian supplies to Syrian refugees at the border between Syria and Turkey, confirming it as the second largest European donor in 2013, with €22 million in funds earmarked in addition to the €7.5 allotted to date.