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Bonino in Parliament – Marines: all options on table. They’re not terrorists: EU supports us

“All options are on the table, both diplomatic–political and judicial: the goal is for our marines to return home with dignity”. The point was explained by Foreign Minister Emma Bonino in her briefing to the Chamber and Senate Foreign Affairs and Defence Committees on the progress in the missions currently under way and development cooperation initiatives in support of peace and stabilisation processes.

Good results at EU level. India’s use of anti-terrorism law raises question mark over campaign to combat piracy

“It is vital to increase the international pressure we have built up, with great effort – pressure that could by no means be taken for granted”, underscored Minister Bonino. The Minister added that the stance adopted 2 weeks ago by the President of the EU Commission, Barroso, and that adopted by the High Representative, Catherine Ashton, at yesterday’s Foreign Affairs Council “are important instruments”, because it has once again been clarified to the European Union’s member states that the use of the anti-terrorism law to charge the two riflemen detained in India “raises a question mark over the entire campaign to combat piracy to which the 28 member states, and others, contribute”.

Contacts with UN on violation of human rights

The Italian Government has “established contact” with the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, “on the subject of violation of human rights, in the form of India’s failure to charge the marines after two years, while at the same time restricting their freedom”, announced the Minister. She explained that the High Commissioner has taken time to assess the situation. “We have also opened a dialogue that we hope will come to fruition in the NATO and UN spheres”, added Bonino.

Government task force to assess situation on Defence Minister’s return

The return of Defence Minister Mauro and the government’s Special Envoy for the case of the marines, Staffan De Mistura, “should pave the way for a collective evaluation by the government, in the task force set up to deal with this case. A group that reports directly to the premier and is composed of the competent ministers” (Foreign Affairs, Defence and Justice). Minister Bonino went on to explain that the task force is the right forum “to take decisions and examine the various options on the table”.

Marines are neither terrorists nor pirates

Minister Bonino reiterated that “our marines are neither terrorists not pirates: they were performing their duties in the name of the Italian government”. For that reason, their lawyers have disputed the use of the anti-terrorism laws as a basis for the charge against them. “The Supreme Court reserved the right to take its decision on 18 February”, while the special court entrusted with the trial “has been called for 25 February”.

Syria: humanitarian access must be the priority

Turning to the Syrian crisis, “we are facing one of the worst humanitarian catastrophes of our times […] and to date little has been done in terms of access for the aid needed by 7 million people”. Bonino underscored that this is the priority, because the political process “will be a long one”. At the same time, death by starvation or the bombing of people queuing for bread, or of schools and hospitals, are unacceptable”. In this situation, the Damascus regime’s delivery of the chemical materials “is proceeding very slowly indeed”, added the Minister.

Libya: international conference in Rome on 6 March

The increasingly fragile political and security situation in Libya will be the focus of an international conference being held in Rome on 6 March 2014, announced Minister Bonino. In agreement with the Libyan authorities and the allies, invitations will also be sent to “key actors in the region who were not included in the first conference”, because we need to address the issue of “a region out of control” that sees a dangerous mix of arms trafficking, terrorism and Jihadism originating from the Sahel.