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To the Editor:

I would like to thank the associations Migrare and Articolo 21, which in the columns of Unità recently turned their attention to Somalia and to the commitment of Italy and the overall international community to the future of that country.

The International Contact Group on Somalia met in Rome one month ago, ahead of the 20 August deadline for the transition.

A realistic awareness emerged at that time of the difficulties that will have to be faced in order to completely turn the page on the past and, at the same time, a clear indication of the route to take.

The prospect of a new constitution that envisions, not least, the holding of a popular referendum, is an important outcome, without which it would be that much more difficult to stabilise the areas freed from terrorism, build a credible and efficient judicial system and create the conditions for economic development in Somalia.

Nevertheless, this is not enough. As even those who drafted the appeal recall, the truly crucial challenge lies in safeguarding fundamental human rights, as also stipulated in the Constitution – starting with, I would underscore, the freedom to openly practice one’s religious creed – and in restoring a framework of security on the ground, first and foremost through effective counter-piracy operations. In my continuing contacts with the Somali authorities, including those through the ambassador accredited in Mogadishu, those aspects are the constant object of detailed and insistent efforts to raise awareness. A new Somalia must rise on a solid foundation of complete and constitutionally imposed respect for human rights and religious freedoms.

We are making the same efforts within the context of European institutions and in contacts with the other governments most involved in the process of stabilisation and institution-building in Somalia. Great encouragement comes with the knowledge that our civil society shares the government’s stance on a new Somalia, which we intend to pursue with conviction and determination in all international forums and in close coordination with our principal partners.

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