Italy demands the truth and will not accept convenient versions on the death of Giulio Regeni. For Foreign Minister Paolo Gentiloni, no realpolitik reasons apply here; the people responsible for the crime must be punished.
Mr Minister, will we come to know the truth on the murder?
«We have asked and obtained that investigative agents of the ROS (the Carabinieri’s Special Operations Group) and of the Police be allowed to participate in Egyptian investigations in Cairo. We will not be satisfied with presumed truths, as we have already said at the arrest of the two people performed in connection with the death of Giulio Regeni. We want to find the real culprits and have them punished in accordance with the law».
Does cooperating in the investigation mean tutoring the Egyptian investigators?
«I don’t think that this is how to define the situation. I know how professional our investigators are and, if they are allowed to work, as it now seems likely, we will be able to obtain results. This is what the Italian government wants».
The case of the young Italian is not the only one; in Egypt reports of missing people and abuse are very frequent. President el-Sisi strongly clamps down on any dissenting voice but Western governments seem reluctant to point it out. What do you think?
«Egypt is our strategic partner and plays a fundamental role in stabilising the region. This has never stopped us from promoting our vision of pluralism and of human rights. In this case however, we are facing a different problem, namely Italy’s duty to defend its citizens and, when they are the victims of crime, demand that the culprits be assured to justice. And this duty applies even more in relations with an allied Country like Egypt».
Egypt will also be a valuable ally in the problem with Libya. What progress has been made in preparing for the intervention?
«They are at work in Libya, and probably will continue to be through the week, in order to facilitate Prime minister-designate al-Sarraj’s attempt to present a list of ministers and obtain a vote of confidence from the majority of the House of Representatives. This attempt is being made despite the difficulty of conciliating the interests of local stakeholders and very fragmented militias, and reach an agreement on the appointment of a minister of defence. Italy insists on the need to bet on a new government, and we will do so also in the meetings with Libyan parties that we are organising with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and other foreign ministers in Munich».
This way though the timeline gets longer. Isn’t there the risk that the presence of Daesh, the self-proclaimed Islamic State, in Libya become increasingly dangerous?
«We are aware that Daesh is consolidating in Sirte and that from that stronghold they can attempt to raid oil installations in the East. But today it must be clear to everyone that we are betting on the establishment of a new government. If we succeed, also our fight against terrorism will become much more effective and not only rely on sporadic clampdowns. We don’t underestimate the danger of Daesh but giving up on stabilising Libya in order to perform military actions unrequested by the new government would be a serious error. A unitary Libyan government is also essential in order to cooperate in managing migration flows and promoting the Country’s development».
If the military intervention is actually launched, what will be our Country’s role in it?
«Italy has always said, and now confirms, that it is ready to coordinate the action with other Countries, on the basis of the requests that Libya might make of us».
The Italian Army is getting ready to send more troops to Iraq, soon becoming the second-largest contingent after the one of the United States. Why make such a commitment while the memory of the massacre of Nassiriya is still so vivid in our minds?
«Our commitment is in four fundamental areas. The first: arm and train the Peshmerga; we have already trained 2,500. Then, train the Iraqi police by our Carabinieri. We are the leading nation in this effort and we are also attentive to train a relevant number of Sunnis and a sizable number of women. In the next few months we are going to start defending the workers at the Mosul Dam and also contribute to the rescue operations of troops injured in combat».
But what is the meaning of such a massive presence?
«We have invested a lot in the security of Iraq, but our commitment is not only, or principally, linked to the past. A large Country like Italy can only be decisive in the struggle against Daesh. Rumours have recently circulated on the presumed reluctance of Italy. The truth of the matter is that Italy is not reluctant but has opted for a mode of being present that Secretary of State John Kerry has recently defined as ‘tremendous’».