Foreign Minister Federica Mogherini attended this week’s “question time” at the Chamber of Deputies and spoke about the two Italian marines, Ukraine, relations with Russia and religious freedom.
Answering questions about the two Italian marines, Minister Mogherini said that she had spoken to them by phone “to inform them of all the steps in the new course of action we are undertaking” through an international procedure that will be “neither simple nor brief. It’s the pathway which the Parliament as a whole, with unanimous and firm support, has urged the government to follow. We will go on working with conviction on this pathway in the hope of bringing them home as soon as possible”.
Ukraine: Mogherini–Steinmeier bilateral in Rome
Minister Mogherini told the Chamber that she will be meeting the German foreign minister, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, in Rome on Thursday 8 May for a bilateral during which they will discuss the Ukrainian crisis. She underscored that “it is vitally important for the international community to focus its efforts in the same direction: that of dialogue, which is extremely difficult. But the only real solution is a political one, and dialogue is the only option”. The Minister reminded her colleagues that the Geneva agreements are the “lodestar on which we continue to work”.
Dialogue: difficult, but the only way
Mogherini reiterated that “even during the latest dramatic events on the ground, with an equally dramatic deterioration in the situation, the only real solution is a political one – there is no alternative to dialogue […] We need to do everything possible to ensure that the dialogue is resumed”.
In Minister Mogherini’s view, there are different questions that must be addressed: “support for a constitutional reform process that must keep pace with the electoral process – and which is suffering some delays – and must be inclusive”. And then there is the electoral process, for which a ceasefire will be needed if the elections are to take place peacefully on 25 May. “We believe”, she added, “and discussions are under way, that they must then be followed by a general election. The OSCE has a vital role to play as the international organisation tasked with playing a positive role on the ground to facilitate dialogue”.
Relations with Russia
Moscow’s return to its role as an active member of the G8 is in the “common interest”, Minister Mogherini told the Chamber. “We hope that Russia’s conduct will enable the organisation to return to its original format”. Italy has always hoped to see Russia once again act as a “responsible partner” of the club of the world’s 8 leading nations: a topic that the foreign minister discussed with her Russian counterpart, Lavrov, to whom she underscored the need for Moscow to respect the Geneva agreements.
Religious freedom: global database planned, Mogherini tells Parliament
A global database to compare the various legislative frameworks and arrive at a model set of regulations to guarantee full religious freedom. That is the “innovative initiative” that will be introduced during the Italian Presidency of the European Union, in partnership with the countries most closely concerned and in synergy with civil society and religious communities.
Italy has long been actively engaged on issues of religious freedom, mainly in the EU context but also in the United Nations. “We will continue our efforts”, Mogherini assured the Chamber, “with preventive and awareness-raising initiatives in the countries concerned. We are convinced that religious freedom is a vital element of international relations too. But it must never be exploited because it is a heritage of humanity”.