Minister Gentiloni, in the beginning you were in favour of military intervention in Libya. Are you still of the same mind?
«Yes, we are working on trying to construct that framework of international legitimacy with the UN that would allow for intervention».
The military option?
«It’s not as if you can intervene just like that, that having a military presence will allow for rebuilding Libya and monitoring the peace process. Military presence isn’t needed to run an expedition in the desert, but to rebuild Libya, there has to be a United Nations base».
But does the idea exist of splitting Libya up so as to bring order to the country?
«In our view that would be risky, because if Libya is split in two we risk being faced with the more radicalised and extreme part».
Meanwhile the refugees are once again arriving in boatloads from Libya. There is talk of 250,000 in the coming months. Will they be impossible to handle?
«We had 170,000 last year; such an increase would certainly be even more difficult to manage. We mustn’t spread panic however, we handled the situation last year; but we have to solve the problem at the root: the situation in Libya; the people coming to Italy are not Libyans, almost none of them, Libya is simply an open gate».
Triton is certainly not an adequate solution, it would seem.
«It is not an adequate solution and, frankly, 3 million euro a month on an emergency like this from an economic superpower like Europe is rather meagre».
Some estimates talk about 500,000, not 250,000, arrivals over the next 3 months.
«Personally, I would not cite numbers».
But we know that there are masses of human beings over there pressing to go.
«We have to stabilise Libya, and strike back at international level against the organisers of this traffic. I repeat: it is not Libyans who are fleeing; they are coming from the Horn of Africa, Syria, central Africa, and using a gateway to Europe».
Do you still think that terrorists are not also arriving on those boats?
«Well, I don’t think so, and I base that on the intelligence information we are getting; no one can rule it out in theory, but at the moment there is no information that this is a useful vehicle for terrorists».
Minister Gentiloni, Italy is the top European supplier of military personnel to UN missions. But in exchange for what, given the refugee influx and the scarce aid we spoke of earlier?
«In exchange for centrality in many parts of the Mediterranean region; think of our most historically important deployments in the Mediterranean, which include the Balkans and Lebanon, in both cases we helped stabilise those countries».
But the problem we have now is there.
«We have extraordinary political and commercial relations in places where we have been protagonists with the United Nations. On a more concrete level, being Europe’s major supplier of personnel to UN-led missions has not helped in the case of the Marines».