Just a few days from the visit to Rome by Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, Somalia is once again the focus of Italy’s foreign and international policy, in the margins of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA). The country was, more specifically, the focus of the ministerial meeting of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) Partners Forum. The meeting, which took place in the presence of UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and the President of the Federal Republic of Somalia, was co-chaired by Foreign Minister Bonino and her Ethiopian colleague, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesu.
Federal framework the best solution for new Somali state, says Bonino
During the meeting, the Italian Foreign Minister noted that this is a crucial period for the reconstruction of Somalia’s institutions on a solid foundation. “We are witnessing a delicate stage in the history of the new Somalia”, observed Minister Bonino. She pointed out that the new Somali state must be based on “inclusiveness and on reconciliation between the principal groups in the country”. Another foundation must be “a federal framework that, with a balanced division of competences between state and local government, seems to be the solution that most closely corresponds to the history and needs of Somalia”.
Italy reiterates support for President Mohamud
In this framework, the role of the international community and of countries such as the “Group of the Friends of IGAD” is of growing importance. The group, in which Italy has been engaged for some time, is strongly committed to fostering stable development in the region. The IGAD Partners Forum ministerial fits into the framework of Italy’s traditionally strong political focus on stability and security in the Horn of Africa. It provided an important opportunity to discuss the most recent political and security developments in Somalia, not least with respect to the repercussions at the regional level. The issue is particularly relevant in a country still affected by terrorism, as shown by the recent attack at the Westgate Mall in Nairobi.
Against this background, the international community’s support of Somalia's institutions is of fundamental importance. Minister Bonino expressed her keen appreciation of the role played by President Sheikh Hassan and his country’s political leadership, to which the Italian government will continue to lend the greatest possible political and economic support.
Meeting of Friends of Syria in margins of UN General Assembly
The many meetings at the UN on 26 September 2013 also saw Italy engaged on the issue of the Syrian crisis. The five permanent members of the Security Council reached an agreement for a draft resolution on the destruction of Syria's chemical weapons arsenal, while the day also included a meeting of the Group of Friends of Syria, of which Italy is a member. The Group said it was determined to increase its support for the Syrian National Coalition – the platform for the groups opposing Bashar al-Assad, with the exclusion of the most radical Jihadist groups – in “all its components.”