Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs Staffan De Mistura is cautious. The fate of the two Italian servicemen is uncertain but “everything possible will obviously be done”. He returned yesterday to the Crisis Unit base in Kochi.
What is the situation at this point regarding the servicemen detained since 15 February?
«This is a particularly delicate moment. Delicate because we are waiting for an accounting of the essential aspects of the incident, the results of the inquest and all other investigative efforts. The fate of our servicemen hinges on these».
The Indian media reported news of the ship’s departure for Italy, which was later retracted. What is happening?
«It’s a purely technical point: other ships needed to have access to the oil rig near the Enrica Lexie so it had to be anchored elsewhere».
The hearing before the High Court of the State of Kerala to establish jurisdiction is set for tomorrow. What are the chances for a favourable verdict?
«We and the Indian authorities have a difference in opinion, that is known. For us the incident took place in international waters, for them that doesn’t change the situation. So we are waiting».
What is the status of relations, at this stage, between Italy and India?
«Let’s say that, at the start of this incident, which took place a few days prior to the elections in Kerala, where the party of Sonia Gandhi went up against the Marxist-based parties, the atmosphere was rather tense, given the obvious political implications. The situation has changed radically, and now we are solely seeking the truth ».
Exactly. Are we getting closer?
«They have accepted the presence of our investigators, even though their law does not permit it. I don’t know if it has been noted, but we immediately extended our condolences for the death of the two fishermen and then offered our complete willingness to reconstruct each step of the incident. For the moment we have expressed our sympathies, but we have not apologized, and the difference is not insignificant».
How are the men holding up?
«Well. We were able to avoid their being transferred to a prison and are working to make it possible for them to remain at the Willington guesthouse. Italy and India have, and have always had, strong ties and are making a joint effort to resolve the case ».