The political-institutional crisis in the countries of North Africa resulting from the peoples’ revolts has been the central focus of Minister Franco Frattini frequent reports to the Parliament. In the one month between19 January and the start of the protests, which began in Algeria in reaction to increased food prices and then spread to nearby Tunisia, the Minister has reported to the Parliamentary Foreign Relations Committees on the events under way, illustrating the Italian government’s stance and the actions it was undertaking, in the Mediterranean, an area where Italy plays an acknowledged pivotal role.
Frattini delivered his first report on the day after the revolt in Tunisia to the Joint Parliamentary Foreign Relations Committees on 18 January 2011. At that time the Minister offered an in-depth analysis (causes and effects) of the Tunisian people’s revolt, describing the initiatives that had been undertaken in aid of Italian nationals and confirming Italy’s support for the democratic transition. Speaking during the Lower House session of 3 February 2011 the Minister spotlighted developments in the situation in Egypt, first highlighting the ministry’s initial preoccupation with the events involving Algeria and Tunisia and then the much more critical scenario in Egypt. After reporting on the foreign ministry’s assistance to Italian nationals in that country, the Minister described talks he had had with representatives of various governments.
In particular, Frattini referred to conversations with the new Egyptian Vice President, General Suleiman, during which the Italian government was asked to sustain the peaceful evolution of the Egyptian institutional structure, allowing for dialogue between the political forces, so as to avoid dangerous power voids, and the launch of a reform process that can lead to free elections. As regards the role of the European Union, the minister expressed the hope that the EU would be able to lend its support to the democratic evolution under way and contribute to preventing the rise of fundamentalist forces that would undermine the stabilizing role thus far played by Cairo on the crucial Middle East scenario. The situation in Egypt was also the object of another urgent report by Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs Stefania Craxi, who spoke before the Lower House on 26 January.
The overall situation in North Africa and in some Middle Eastern countries was the topic of another of Frattini’s reports in the Lower House on 15 February 2011. After describing the results of his visits to Tunisia, Syria and Jordan, the minister expressed his satisfaction with the Tunisian provisory government’s pledge to pursue reforms ahead of elections and to adhere to fundamental international conventions and seek in earnest to eradicate the phenomenon of human trafficking. The minister committed the Italian government to the socio-economic recovery of Tunisia, a task for the success of which he invoked the pro-active support of the European Union. The minister then pointed out that contact was being maintained with the provisory Egyptian government in order to monitor developments following the fall of Mubarak.
Libya, the other North African country in turmoil, was the focus of the minister’s report in the Lower House of 23 February, during which he appealed for bipartisan collaboration and active coordination between the government and parliament in confronting the problems stemming from the Libyan crisis. Frattini condemned the violence used against civilian demonstrators and evoked the potential threat of heavy waves of illegal immigration toward our country.
The situation in Libya and the rest of North Africa, will be the main topic of Frattini’s report tomorrow to Copasir (Parliamentary Committee for the Security of the Republic), which deals with the control of the secret services.