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Gentiloni: “The Caliphateis source of the new threat that our nation too is ready to combat” (Repubblica)

ROME. Paolo Gentiloni, Minister for Foreign Affairs,you will be joining Prime Minister Renzi today at the “march” in Paris. Are you expecting an attack such as that against Charlie Hebdoin the French capital?

«The establishment of a terrorist-controlled region between Iraq and Syria, and then the use that theDaesh [Arabic acronym for IS, editor’s note] made of its initial successes, made it clear to us that an outrage of this sort was possible, and would be even more probable in Europe. When you create a magnet, an incubator, a multiplier such as the Daesh, the consequences are predictable. No particular alarms have been sounded in Italy, but there is a general situation that we all clearly recognise. The obelisk in St. Peter’s Square turning up on the cover of the terrorists’ official magazine does not leave muchto the imagination…».

The new head of the Farnesina has been focusingfor some weeks now on the Daesh, on Islamic terrorists and on the effects their actions are having on the heart of Europe and across the Mediterranean, Libya first and foremost.

«For the first time ever, a terrorist group has set itself up in the Middle East with unprecedented military, economic, organisational and, I would say, propagandistic capabilities; just think of the reverberation taking place across Europe. What happened in France is an indicator of this new threat, and it would be dangerous and misleading to think that it could be confronted without intervening, to abstain in the belief that we can simply seal our borders».

What’s to be done then?

«We must strike at and eradicate the threat in the place where it is most deeply rooted, and that is the Daesh. In July/August the threat was much greater than it is now on the ground in Iraq. But the ripple effect involving the movement of various combatants hasreached Europe and will continue to spread, regardless of whether the military interventions of the coalition we are part of in Kobane or elsewhereare victorious. That threat must be eliminated also by confronting Al Qaeda, Boko Haram and other fonts of terrorism».

This is a call to arms, a very tough “wakeup call”, that you are launching.

«Non-intervention isan unrealistic and dangerous idea, and it would be even more dangerous to think that the issue does not concern us, but rather someone else who will shoulder it for us. The thought that ‘oh well, there are always the Americans, they’ll do it’ – later perhaps allowing ourselves the luxury of accusing them of being the “badguys” – is no longer an option. So much so that a coalition of 60 nations has been set up to crush the Daesh. And that is why the government is calling for unity in parliament not only to reinforce and regroup the counter-terrorism apparatus within the country, but also without».

Italy is unused tosuch a raw affirmation…

«There is no such thing as “outsourcing” our security, either as Europeans or Italians. Isolationism compromises Italy in terms of security, the economy and the country’s very cohesion. The point that concerns me is whether our government officials, politicians, journalists and economists are aware that the world does not have an automatic equilibrium based on super power balances or on the illusion of American omnipotence».

Mr. Minister, seeing Paris struck at its very heart hurts all of us, but you have said very clearly many times that the military option alone is not enough.

«Certainly, and I confirm that. Just as I closely analyse all the necessary warnings.Islam is not to be equated with terrorism; Islamic terrorists, as Egyptian president al-Sisi has said, are even defying the majority of Islamic governments and believers. Terrorism will not be defeated solely through the use of the military, and we will find our primary allies in the European Islamic communities. All this is true, all these are political intelligence precautions to be adopted in order not to aggravate the situation rather than resolve it. But these precautions must be located in an unequivocal  framework: that we must combat this threat. Full stop».

Italy is divided over the use or not of the word “war”, an ideological or perhaps simply political/tactical division between supporters of the fight against terrorism and those who could try to use the concept for electoral purposes.

«We are facing a head-on collision here, even military. Words arenothing, deeds are what count. Clearly without getting into idiotic crusades orseeking equilibria that don’t exist, and much less confusing the boatloads of desperate refugees arriving along our coasts for Kalashnikov-armed terrorists».

One last question on the status of negotiations between Italy and India on the fate of marines Latorre and Girone.

«Everyone can see that state of Latorre’s health. The Italian government hopes that this humanitarian aspect will be considered by the Indian Supreme Court when it decides on Monday whether or not to extend his health leave in Italy. In any case, for us his health is an absolute priority. For now that’s enough».

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