“The partial Rowhani/Sarif window will not be open forever”. For that reason, the time factor in the West’s dialogue with Iran “is essential”. This was one of the key passages in Minister Emma Bonino’s speech at a forum organised by Radio Radicale. The tensions in Turkey and transition in the Middle East, as well as preparations for the European parliamentary elections in the spring, were among the other themes of her debate with a group of invited journalists.
With Iran the West must not repeat the mistake of “wasting Khatami”
“I am confident that the West is more aware” with regard to this opening with Iran, the minister commented, expressing the hope that her colleagues’ visits to Teheran would “intensify”. Indeed, the minister pointed out, “there is justified resistance on our part, legitimate fears, but it is important that our European colleagues realise that the mistake of “wasting Khatami” must not be repeated”. The time factor, therefore, becomes “essential. The partial Rowhani/Zarif window will not be open forever, and for a thousand reasons”, Emma Bonino stressed, recalling how, regarding the presidency of Mohammad Khatami, there was an economic element that was not to be underestimated, owing to “a very serious economic situation” and to “demographic pressure coming from a young society that is not anti-West”.
Arab countries undergoing a long transition with little certainty
Touching on the situation in Arab countries, the minister then pointed out that the region was “facing a lengthy transition with little certainty. We must be aware that it’s a long-term thing” where one of the key factors lies in the “internal upheaval” under way in the Sunni world, and that the Syria crisis emerges against this backdrop.
Ahead of the Geneva 2 Peace Conference, Bonino cited the need to “try to alleviate the violence during the negotiations. The worsening humanitarian crisis is not helping a political solution but rather the further weakening of the entire region”. As for the possibility of reaching a solution, the minister was cautious, expressing the hope that progress would be made in terms of the status quo and that “none of the participating countries has the illusion of knowing better than the others. It that’s what happens we won’t get anywhere”.
Farnesina going strong, despite budget cuts
Finally, the minister discussed the foreign ministry’s activities, recalling, that the ministry was monitoring 10,000 cases of Italians around the world, 3120 of whom are under arrest. She also pointed out that the ministry’s resources for doing so were much less that those of other major European nations. “I don’t let it bother me too much, though, the ministry is doing an excellent job, has great enthusiasm and realises that we need to streamline in Europe”. “As a diplomat I would never choose to close any foreign mission, but I have to do it on the basis of the spending review, and the institution understands that”, Bonino concluded.