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Interview detail

Security in Northern Africa following the attack in Benghazi and the need to recuperate Russia on the Syrian crisis were the focus of Minister for Foreign Affairs Terzi’s meeting with UN Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, which has resulted in what US spokespersons are calling “a partnership on global themes”.

Minister, how has the more stable euro changed the US-Europe agenda?

«The euro’s stability remains relevant to the US economy, but this aspect is is causing less anxiety as Washington views Europe’s progress. Hillary Clinton’s important comment on the EU’s Nobel Prize is based on the fact that the Administration is counting on a more stable and more incisive Europe».

Washington’s listo s concerns is topped by Libya. What can Italy do to contribute to stability there?

«We intend to encourage all the political forces to form a government, ensure stability and security. Consolidation must come from within, but the most friendly countries can offer encouragement to the political forces to develop a national ,a not regional, vision, in order to develop a Constitution that goes in the direction that coincides with the UN Charter. Moreover, we can contribute to creating a favourable economic climate».

After the assault on the US consulate in Benghazi, how serious is the threat of Al Qaeda in the Maghreb?

«There is a Jihadist movement in the region stretching from the Sahel to the Mediterranean, to Libya and Egypt. There are Jihad pockets that have gained momentum from the diminished capacity for control in some countries such as Libya, Mali, Niger and Nigeria. The Al Qaeda threat is there but it is not uniform. We must vew the Benghazi incident as a red alert, but we must prevent the Jihadists from consolidating in the North of Mali».

Is the EU prepared to make a financial contribution to the UN-led African mission in Mali?

«What is happening in Mali is crucial to the entire Sahel. The UN mission needs internal stability. France is the most engaged EU country, but Europei s involved and we must increase invetments in development. I hope the EU will be able to find the political will and means for confronting the situation ».

What is the Syrian opposition lacking then?

«A unified agenda. The opposition is labouring to overcome personal agendas and to set itself as a real alternative to the regime. There are credible leaders but there is still a galaxy of interests. Much remains to be done».

What do you think about Russia’s resistance?

«Russia is critical of the Arab Spring movements, considering them a sign of regional instability not of progress toward true democracy. As a consequence, they have a negative view of the Syrian civil war and continue to support the Syrian regime».

Is such dissent reversible?

«I think so, because the serious consequences of the civil war in Syria pose a threat to the entire international community, Russia included. What everyone is concerned about is Jihadism, which is becoming radicalised in Syria».

How do you think the stalemate with Russia can be broken?

«Russia and the EU need to change gears. There are elements of misunderstanding, but Russia i san essential partner. I am convinced that there are grounds for more convergence, even on Syria ».

How important are the new EU sanctions on Iran?

«Very important. They impact the financial system, the economy and tran sport, touching on strategic sectors of the Iranian economy».

Italy and the US closer to a solution to the affair of the 23 CIA agents convicted of kidnapping Abu Omar?

«We have an Appeals Court ruling. It is not the task of the government to comment. We consider the “Sofa” accords as precise with regard to the treatment of American military personnel in Italy. We have to clarify these aspects».

The year 2013 will be the Year of Italian Culture in the United States. Are we going to be seeing some of Italy’ great treasures on display?

«I believe so. We have had many requests and there are great expectations, not least in the wake of the celebrations for the 150th anniversary of Italian Unity».

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