Minister Frattini is scheduled to make a report to the Senate on the Libyan crisis on Wednesday 16 March, in light of EU, NATO, Arab League and UN meetings. This will be one of many reports the Minister has delivered to the parliament, beginning on 19 January in the wake of the protests in Algeria in response to rising food prices that later spread to Tunisia and Egypt.
In the joint Upper and Lower House foreign affairs commissions, and in the Lower House alone, Frattini has kept the parliament updated on events under way, while also illustrating the government’s position and course of action in the Mediterranean, a geographic area where Italy’s role has been widely acknowledged as pivotal.
One of Frattini’s first reports on the day after the revolt in Tunisia was before the joint parliamentary foreign affairs commissions on 19 January 2011. At that time the minister offered an in-depth analysis (causes and effects) of the Tunisian popular revolt, describing the ministry’s assistance efforts for Italian nationals and ensuring Italy’s support for a process of democratic transition. Reporting to the Lower House on 2 February 2011, the minister focused mainly on the foreign ministry’s activities in Algeria and Tunisia, and then on the extremely critical scenario in Egypt. After reporting on the ministry’s efforts to assist Italian nationals in that country, the head of Italian diplomacy recounted the conversations he had had with the representatives of many other governments.
Frattini referred, in particular, to his conversations with new Deputy Vice President of Egypt Suleiman, during which he requested the Italian government’s support for a process of peaceful institutional transition in Egypt that would lead, through political dialogue, to preventing dangerous power voids and a process of shared reforms, and to the conduction of free elections. As for the role of the EU, the minister expressed the hope that the organization would be able to add its support to the democratic transition under way and contribute to preventing the rise of fundamentalist forces that would undermine the stabilising role that Cairo has thus far played on the Middle East scenario. The situation in Egypt was also the object of another urgent report by the government, when Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs Stefania Craxi spoke before the Lower House on 26 January.
After listing the results of his visits to Tunisia, Syria and Jordan, the minister hailed the commitment of Tunisia’s provisory government to pursuing reforms ahead of elections, complying with fundamental international conventions and combating the phenomenon of trade in human beings. In this regard, the minister committed the Italian government to socio-economic support for Tunisia, a task that he hoped would have the pro-active support of the European Union. The minister then described the contacts that had been set up with the provisory Egyptian authorities aimed at monitoring developments following the fall of Mubarak.
Libya, another North African nation in crisis, was the focus of the minister’s 23 February report to the Lower House in which he appealed for bipartisan collaboration and effective coordination between the government and the parliament in confronting the problems stemming from the dramatic internal upheaval in Libya. Frattini condemned the violence against civilian protesters and cited the danger of heavy waves of illegal immigration toward our country.
The situation in Libya and the rest of North Africa was the topic of Frattini’s report on 2 March to the Parliamentary Committee for the Security of the Republic (Copasir), a parliamentary body responsible for controlling the activities of the secret services, while on 9 March Frattini announced in a report to the Lower House that Italy would be proposing joint EU/NATO “Mediterranean naval initiative” to the 12 March European Council to “ensure compliance with international sanctions already imposed, especially with regard to the arms embargo”. Frattini also reiterated that the establishment of a no-fly zone over Libyan skies was a matter calling for “international consensus”.