The problem of the massive migration wave breaking on the shores of Lampedusa in recent days was the focus of a statement by Minister Frattini who, after leaving Damascus where he held a press conference with Syrian Foreign Minister Moallem, will go on to Tunis. “Thus far the mechanism of patrolling the North African coasts” Frattini said, “has worked, and we want to reinstate that mechanism which until a month ago led to zero illegal immigration”. Italy has sea and land-based “instruments” ready to help Tunisia patrol.
“Italy can offer much to Tunisia”, beginning with “logistical aid in terms of outfitting the police force, including making available some major land and sea-based instruments for patrolling the coasts”. There is “an unprecedented trafficking in human beings” going on”, Frattini stressed, “it’s a horrible business that these desperate people are leaving behind, some of whom have paid $1,000 a head to get on a boat to Lampedusa. I think that Tunisia and Italy have a common interest in stopping this traffic. The minister also had a telephone conversation with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who expressed US concern over the migration explosion in the Mediterranean.Frattini’s meetings in Damascus centred on a new pact for the Mediterranean and prospects for the Middle East peace process. During a joint press conference with Syrian foreign minister Moallem, and, after meeting with President Assad, Frattini expressed the hope that Israel would stop the settlements in the Territories and “restore the Golan Heights to Syria”. He appealed for “balanced, fair and all-encompassing peace” and defined as “necessary and urgent” a “new dynamic in negotiations throughout the region”.
Frattini went back to the role the EU can play in the region by encouraging those peace negotiations for a stable and lasting peace across the region that must therefore include the Israelis with the restoration of the Golan Heights”. The minister expressed his conviction that EU instruments had been under-employed by the societies of the area and, above all, the circulation of young people by means of a more relaxed visa system”. And as regards Egypt, the minister specified, “we are convinced that it is necessary to help, without undue interference, the process of democratic transition under way in Cairo.