Afghanistan, with the recent conclusions of the international Conference in Bonn, and the on-going transition process in the countries of the Arab Spring. These were are the two central themes of the OSCE ministerial taking place in Vilnius. Italy is represented by Foreign Minister Giulio Terzi, who brings to the table our country’s contribution to the international discussion on the two dossiers.
Terzi confirmed that a stable and secure Afghanistan will continue to be in Italy’s interest. Over the last ten years we have made a key contribution to the country: over 4000 men and women from our armed forces and 570 million in aid through the Foreign Ministry’s Development Cooperation Directorate.
Even after the military withdrawal in 2014, Italy will continue to provide its own specific contribution in three principal areas: assistance in consolidating the Afghan institutions; the development of civil society; and the promotion of rights. All of this will be done while keeping sight of the regional dimension of stabilisation, by by seeking to directly involve all the neighbouring countries: India, Pakistan, China, Russia, and the central-Asian countries. This is an agreed goal proposed by Italy two-and-a-half years ago, at the G8 meeting in Trieste.
The Arab Spring dossier has been and continues to be an Italian foreign policy priority, since it is an expression of our country’s interest in maintaining close relations with the Mediterranean region. In addition to playing a full role in the Unified Protector operation, Italy was the first European country to re-open (in March 2011) its Consulate General in Benghazi; the second European country to recognise the NTC; and the first EU country to send an Ambassador to Tripoli.
Italy has promoted substantial bilateral aid programmes for the countries swept up in the Arab Spring revolts, along with multilateral initiatives for the economic development of the region. These include, in our status as G8 members, the “Deauville Partnership”, as well as the extension of the Erasmus programme to the young generations of the countries concerned.