In Italy, the Libyan crisis was the focus of a debate in Parliament. Reporting to the Senate, Foreign Minister Frattini explained that “Italy is making its contribution, and will continue to do so, with due respect for the limits laid down in UN Resolution 1973” on Libya. “We’re not making war, but preventing it”, and preventing the killing of civilians to, he added. The Minister explained that in view of the feelings of friendship linking Italy to the Libyan people, “we had worked for and wanted a peaceful solution to the Libyan crisis”.
Military action became necessary, however, to prevent grave damage and so we are and will continue to be present, with full dignity. In Frattini’s view, it was necessary to start with an urgent action to prevent the massacre of civilians. And we now need to restore the rules with a single chain of unified command with NATO because Italy wants to avert the risk of being jointly responsible for undesirable actions by other countries in Libya. The goal now is to achieve a ceasefire as soon as possible to embark on the political process in Libya, a process that should lead to a “dialogue of national reconciliation”. The only pre-condition is that Gaddafi must leave power, added Frattini.
On the refugee question, Frattini reported that over 15,000 people have arrived in Italy since January. The scope of the question, he added, “means that a European strategy is needed”.
Turning to bilateral relations, Frattini explained that “in Italy we have frozen 6-7 billion euros worth of the Gaddafi regime’s assets, while the friendship treaty is suspended to all legal effect” because otherwise Italy would be breaching UN Resolution 1973.
In the meantime, NATO has entered into play after the political agreement reached by the USA, France and Great Britain, an agreement that is in line with Italy’s position. Representatives of the 28 Alliance member states are now meeting in Brussels to “translate” this new stance into a new operations command for the mission in Libya. Italy has already been given the key role of commanding the naval operations to enforce the arms embargo, which are active as of today. The operation, in which 3 Italian vessels are taking part, has been named “Operation Unified Protector".
The first meeting of the contact group on Libya will take place on Tuesday 29 March 2011 in London. Participants will include the African Union, the Arab League and the European countries involved.