The campaign against the death penalty will be one of the priorities of the Italian Presidency of the European Union, which starts on 1 July 2014. The point was made by Foreign Minister Federica Mogherini at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York, one of the USA’s most distinguished think tanks. The topic was also one of the key points for discussion with the Secretary General of the United Nations, Ban Ki-moon.
As Mogherini pointed out, the question is hugely important, not least in terms of respect for human rights. This is especially true at a time when countries like Sudan and Nigeria envisage the death penalty for apostasy [renunciation of a religious faith] or see the collective kidnapping of young girls to convert them under threat of death. With Ban Ki-moon, Minister Mogherini also discussed the issue from the perspective of Italy’s customary annual initiative in the United Nations General Assembly for a moratorium on the death penalty.
Syria, Iran and Middle East
In her talk, Minister Mogherini addressed a range of international affairs issues and summed up the conclusions of the Friends of Syria meeting in London on 15 May 2014, including the decision to keep up the pressure on President Bashar al Assad. Support for the moderate opposition was also confirmed. In Mogherini’s view, the possibility that a definitive agreement might be reached before the end of June is a real one (“I’m optimistic”, she said). At that point, things could start to change in the Middle East.
Meeting with the Mayor of New York
Minister Mogherini discussed her scheduled one-to-one meeting with the Mayor of New York, who is of Italian origin. “The task in my first visit to the United States” she explained, “is not just to consolidate our relations with this country but also to build on everything that Italians have done, and are still doing, for America”.