Ladies and Gentlemen,
the international challenges facing us today are becoming increasingly complex and interdependent. We need to address them through coordinated and integrated approaches. We need to build broad-based coalitions, even among countries with different political and cultural traditions.
As testified by the political engagement of Anna Lindh, to whom I wish to pay tribute today, the road we must follow to achieve this objective is that of dialogue and multilateralism. In these times of deep transformation of the international system, dialogue and multilateralism represent the only method to achieve effective global governance. They are instruments that enable each and every one of us to assume responsibility and become involved in the quest for common solutions to the dilemmas that the 21st century poses for the international community. And it is 8 of these dilemmas that I wish to consider today, starting from the effects of globalisation on universal values.
1st Dilemma – Universal values: cultural identity versus global culture. Where values are concerned, globalisation has produced two main effects. On the one hand, it has generated insecurity, uncertainty and disorientation. And more, by giving the impression of having made the world a flat and uniform place it has caused interactive, and sometimes competitive, tendencies between different religious faiths and cultures, between localism and universalism, and between individual and community. As a result, we often have the impression that differences, contrapositions and misunderstandings must predominate.
And on the other hand, globalisation has played a part in reshaping the hierarchy of international power. We are witnessing a progressive transfusion of commercial, economic, and political power from the West to new, emerging powers and new regional, sub-regional and non-state actors. New cultural traditions are emerging and coming to the fore. This is a very positive development to the extent that it enables us to extend the sphere of international responsibility of certain countries, and therefore their engagement in seeking a solution to global problems. But this “diffusion of power”, this new global governance in fieri, must not imply a “dilution of values” or a change in the way we interpret the fundamental rights of the individual and the respect for human rights.
Given the complexity of these dynamics, Europe and the West have two paths to follow. First, the West must not be afraid of being itself and working to preserve the integrity of certain universal values, especially in the area of civil rights. This does not mean organising ourselves to export these rights. It means defending them through mutual respect, ideas and intercultural dialogue. Only in this way can we find true common ground and avoid sacrificing individual rights on the altar of extremism and fanaticism.
Second, Europe and the West must play a role in spreading the benefits of globalisation at, indeed, the global level, and enabling each and everyone to enjoy its advantages. We must redouble our political efforts to ensure that not just the markets, but rights and opportunities too, are truly “globalised”, for everyone. More specifically, we must strive to globalise the value of human dignity. We need to ensure that the promotion of and respect for human rights, the fight against poverty, as well as food and social security and health and education for all, continue to be key issues on the international agenda and are pursued with conviction and perseverance.
2nd Dilemma – The Iranian question: dialogue versus isolation. It is not easy to choose the best strategy for convincing Teheran to adopt a more responsible and cooperative attitude. It is not easy to find the right blend of dialogue and pressure. On the one hand, Iran could be positively involved on several crucial fronts. Teheran could play a valuable role in the stabilisation of Afghanistan or Iraq, since its influence, as well as the Shiite influence in general, is on the increase in the Middle East. On the other hand, the prospect of Iran acquiring military nuclear capability is unacceptable, and we are deeply concerned about the current situation in the country, following the outcome of the recent presidential elections.
As for this last point, Italy and the EU have taken a clear stance. We continue to stress that the manner in which the Iranian elections were conducted needs to be investigated and the outcome should reflect the will of the Iranian people. While fully respectful of the Iran’s sovereignty, Italy and the European Union have strongly condemned all arbitrary arrests and the use of violence or repression against protesters; violence that resulted in the loss of lives. We have underscored that the right to the protection of human life comes before any other and urged the Iranian government to create the conditions to peacefully confront the internal crisis. It is in Iran’s own interest to seek consensus of the civil society on a sustainable internal stability.
Iran has also missed a major opportunity in these days to interact constructively with the international community, at least as regards Afghanistan. Teheran will not be present at the G8 outreach session at foreign minister level opening tomorrow in Trieste, dedicated to Afghanistan and the region. Western and Iranian interests in Afghanistan partly coincide, and the Trieste’s Conference would have represented the occasion for Iran to play a positive role on regional issues such as border control and narco-trafficking.
Nevertheless, we remain convinced that the door to dialogue between the West and Iran must remain open. We remain convinced of the opportunity to tackle the Iranian question in a more comprehensive manner than the “only nuclear policy”. But it is now up to the Iranians to demonstrate their willingness to play a constructive role. The ball is in their court. It is up to them to send an immediate positive signal by halting all violence against demonstrators and by reaching out confidently to grasp the hand extended by President Obama and the international community.
3rd Dilemma – Governing the economic crisis: free market versus neo-dirigisme; protectionism versus open economy. Perhaps we were fooling ourselves that the global market could function on its own, generating wealth and prosperity, peace and security all by itself. In recent years events have provided ample proof to the contrary. Globalization requires governance if we intend to close the gaps it causes and foster sustainable development. Recognising the need to manage globalization, however, neither lends credibility to the equation between the free market economy and the current crisis, nor justifies the reintroduction of protectionist measures.
The former stance is frequently evoked in debates on the origins of the current depression, but seems rather simplistic. The genesis and development of the crisis foregrounds a more complex point that begs reflection: freedom of the markets must not be freedom from regulation but, rather, freedom in regulation. Regulations that have to be clear, transparent and effective in order to ensure that economic and financial activities are conducted within an honest and sustainable framework. It is with this in mind that the recent European Council approved the creation of a new financial supervisory architecture to protect the European financial system. Again with this in mind, the G8 Summit in L’Aquila will discuss how to define a global standard for the global economy.
As for limits on international trade, authoritative analyses (Deutsche Bank) estimate that the global import-export contraction could reach 15% by the end of 2009. This can be attributed to a return to protectionist measures which, since October 2008, have increased by 55%, especially in the form of non-tariff barriers and subsidies for national producers. The fight against protectionism is one of the Italian G8 Presidency’s priorities. We will be addressing this topic at the L’Aquila Summit along with that of re-launching international trade, which we intend to pursue by giving new political impetus to reaching a positive conclusion of the Doha Round.
Europe is not immune to the resurgence of protectionism, but it must resist this temptation. Internal market regulations are one of the pillars upon which Europe is constructed, and must be respected even in these difficult times. More in general, only by preserving an open society can Europe really multiply the opportunities available to all its citizens.
4th Dilemma – The new global governance: inclusiveness versus effectiveness. With regard to the international system, the most significant effect of the current economic crisis has been to demonstrate the undeniable need for a new global governance, and to speed up the process of defining what that means.
As the current G8 President, Italy is firmly committed to fostering this process of reform and renewal. As we see it, the new governance should strike the right balance between, on the one hand, a greater involvement of the new rising economies in the decision-making process; and, on the other, the need to keep the format as slim and streamlined as necessary to take rapid, effective decisions.
In light of these principles, the G8 summit at L’Aquila will give us an opportunity to launch a new paradigm of international governance. At the core of the new model will be a stable and structured G8-G5 collaboration, a more ambitious form of association between the G8 and the major emerging economies: China, India, Brazil, Mexico and South Africa. Italy has also decided to include Egypt, an African, Arab and predominantly Muslim country that is therefore able to further enhance and strengthen the group’s representativeness.
Having said this, we are also convinced that no single format exists that will be valid for every situation. The complexity of the challenges that face us requires a pragmatic and flexible approach. In other words, it must be the issue itself dictating the most appropriate format and not vice versa. This is why in L’Aquila we will be holding working sessions on specific international challenges, each format involving all the most relevant actors for the issue concerned. For instance, there will be a meeting of the Major Economies Forum on Energy and Climate, and a G8 session with our African partners to discuss the impact of the crisis on developing countries.
The topic of a new governance also concerns the UN Security Council reform. Together with its Uniting for Consensus partners, Italy has put forward a new negotiating platform trying to accommodate the interests and concerns of all States and regional groupings. In particular, we want to keep alive the long term perspective of a EU representation within the Security Council and, more in general, to enhance the EU’s collective role in the Council.
5th Dilemma – Crisis management: Hard-Security versus Soft-Security. Since the end of the Cold War, regional crises have multiplied and we have debated at length which was the best strategy to manage the hotbeds of instability. More specifically, the international community has often pondered the question of which was the most effective combination between Hard-Security, the military dimension of its interventions, and Soft-Security, the civil aspects of its engagement. In this respect, from the crises we have managed in recent years we have learned at least two key lessons.
The first lesson: to address a regional crisis effectively we need to bring its various dimensions together into a comprehensive approach. It is crucial to combine military intervention, political dialogue, civil reconstruction, institution-building and economic development. At the same time, we need to ensure the greatest possible degree of international coordination among all the countries and multilateral institutions that are involved, or that have a part to play in solving the problem.
The second lesson: to secure an area of instability we often need to develop a regional approach. In other words, we must ensure that all the actors who have an interest in the geo-strategic context of the crisis, including regional and sub-regional organisations, assume responsibility for it. Cultivating regional ownership of a crisis is also of fundamental importance in facilitating the definition of an exit strategy for the international community, and in guaranteeing security for the area concerned in the medium-to long-term, once the external engagement has been reduced or ended.
An example of the way these two concepts are now applied, not without difficulty, is Afghanistan. Italy was one of the first countries to underscore the importance of adopting a comprehensive and regional approach in Afghanistan. And by now it is clear to all of us that there is no purely military solution to this multi-faceted and complex crisis. Just as it is clear to us all that we cannot make progress in stabilising the country if we fail to consider its regional context. As I have mentioned, in light of these convictions Italy, as G8 President, has organised an outreach meeting in Trieste on Afghanistan and Pakistan. The countries of the region will be taking part to the event, along with other relevant countries, such as Sweden, and the competent international organisations.
6th Dilemma – The transatlantic relationship: Mars versus Venus. In 2001 and even more in 2003, after the American intervention in Iraq, the United States and Europe seemed, in the eyes of some observers, like two different planets. The Americans were from Mars, because they felt it was crucial to pursue their own security and promote their own values, including through the use of military instruments. The Europeans, on the other hand, were from Venus, as they viewed the use of force as immoral and preferred to dedicate their budgets not to military expenditure but to social services. This “two planets” view was a dangerous line of thought, because it implied that the transatlantic relationship was not just weakened by a specific political division, over Iraq, but undermined at its very core by a different vision of international priorities.
Today we can say that this risk has been averted. We no longer need to speak either of Mars or of Venus. On both sides of the Atlantic the spirit of Minerva prevails: that of wisdom. Never before have the United States and Europe been so close on crucial dossiers for international security, such as the Middle East or Afghanistan; or on the way to tackle cross-cutting threats such as nuclear proliferation and climate change.
The new risk that some commentators fear for Europe in its relationship with Washington has now become the advance of a G2, an exclusive relationship between the United States and China. But for Europe the spectre of a G2 must not be either an excuse to refuse its responsibilities in addressing global challenges, or an option to be experienced with inert fatalism.
We must, rather, adopt a pro-active approach because a lot depends on us too, and on our ability to make ourselves useful. Our regained transatlantic harmony is not a blank cheque; it is a test for Europe. And now we must deliver. While it is true that a G2 of economic interests exists between the United States and China, the G2 of shared values, the transatlantic relationship, still retains all of its relevance.
There are many fields where we can demonstrate our usefulness to Washington. In Afghanistan and on Guantanamo, of course, but also in the Middle East Peace Process. In the immediate term, by helping revitalise the role of the “Quartet” – which will be meeting the day after tomorrow in Trieste – and working to kick-start once again the Israeli-Palestinian dialogue. And in the medium-to-long term, by contributing to the security of the region by possibly sending a police mission, and by supporting the progressive normalisation of relations between Israel and the moderate Arab countries as part of a regional approach.
7th Dilemma – The migration emergency: Northern dimension versus Mediterranean dimension. In the EU we sometimes see a competitive approach between member states in attracting attention and resources to tackle the problems that specifically involve the sub-region to which they belong: for instance to the North-east or to the Mediterranean dimensions. However, there is no denying that we often find ourselves having to tackle horizontal and cross-cutting problems that, although affecting some member states particularly intensely, end up concerning all the countries and sub-regions of the Union. One of these, and one of the most dramatic and urgent, is illegal immigration from the Mediterranean.
We are facing a real humanitarian emergency. The number of illegal migrants arriving by sea in Italy and the other countries on the Union’s Mediterranean border increased exponentially in 2008. But, as I said, we must not imagine that this challenge only concerns Italy, Malta or Spain. On the contrary it involves the European Union as a whole , and encompasses the entire Schengen space. According to some estimates published by the European Commission, there are about 8 million illegal immigrants living in EU countries. That is why it is a European challenge. That is why we need a renewed commitment to give concrete implementation to the European Pact on Immigration and Asylum adopted in October 2008. That is why, while the Stockholm programme will be an important reference point in the medium-to-long term, urgent measures are needed too, inspired by solidarity amongst member states and cooperation with non-EU countries.
I am therefore extremely pleased that the recent European Council recognised the gravity and the urgency of the problem, underscored its European nature and indicated some important provisions to tackle it. It is an important step in the right direction which the EU needs to consolidate further as a matter of priority. According to us, there are three key points which need to be addressed to overcome the emergency. First, we need to guarantee asylum rights outside European territory, especially in North Africa. At the same time, we need to define a European burden-sharing mechanism for taking in beneficiaries of international protection. Second, we must aim to manage the Union’s external borders more closely by strengthening the role of Frontex and making the most of its potential to assist member states in identifying, receiving and repatriating illegal migrants. And third, we need to develop cooperation with a number of key Mediterranean partners, starting with Libya.
8th Dilemma – The future of the European Union: integration versus sovereignty. The new century sees us faced with a dilemma that is key to the effective operation of the international system: the dilemma between sovereignty and integration. In spite of globalization, we find ourselves today dealing with a more sovereign world. The United States went through a long period of sovereign unilateralism after 9/11; and Europe saw its supranational momentum falter with the failure of the Constitutional Treaty, which was only partly mitigated by the Treaty of Lisbon.
The current economic crisis is giving a further impetus towards sovereignty by strengthening the role and responsibilities of governments everywhere. In Europe the crisis has been handled more through the intergovernmental method than the Community one. The European response to the crisis has mainly been steered by repeated summits of heads of state and government.
However, in the face of problems and challenges that have assumed a global dimension, a simple return to sovereignty cannot be a convincing response. In Europe and elsewhere. As far as the Union is concerned, we must actively continue its integration process, because more sovereignty without more integration leaves the field open, over the medium-to-long term, to “directories” and “restricted groups”. But what we need is a coherent and united Europe. In this respect, the first step is to bring the Treaty of Lisbon into effect and complete the constitution-building phase initiated so long ago. The results of the recent European Council laid the groundwork for holding a new referendum in Ireland this autumn. Sweden’s role as holder of the next EU Presidency will therefore be crucial in seeing that Treaty finally become a reality.
But let me be quite clear on this issue: while the Treaty of Lisbon is a necessary condition to revitalising the role of the European Union, it is not sufficient on its own. Internally, the key is to rekindle the trust and consensus of our citizens on the European project, showing them the EU’s ability to make decisions. Externally, the Union has to regain the strength to present itself as a model to be emulated, speaking with one voice on the international stage.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Allow me to close this address by touching on a subject, the relationship between Russia and Europe, that I am aware is followed very closely in Sweden. This relationship is at the core of many of our contemporary dilemmas. In order to solve them we need to have Russia on board. Conversely, without Russia it will be harder to succeed.
We believe that our relationship with Moscow should be conceived purely in terms of co-operation, and not of confrontation. Russia should not be seen as a menace that needs to be contained but rather as a partner to be engaged. We have many common interests and have become more and more interdependent. It is in our interest to engage Russia, but it is also in Russia’s interest to deepen relations with Europe.
In a few days an OSCE informal Ministerial will be held in Corfu to debate a new European security architecture. In the margins of that event the NATO-Russia Council will meet, marking the resumption of political cooperation between the Alliance and Moscow after years of small-scale bartering and the frostiness resulting from the crisis in Georgia. For the second half of 2009, the Swedish Presidency is preparing an EU-Russia summit. These three events underscore Russia’s importance to European equilibria. Italy feels that they should be exploited to cultivate a relationship of trust and develop a positive and global agenda with Moscow. We want Moscow to address the global challenges with us: from Iran to Afghanistan, non-proliferation, and energy security. While standing firmly by our principles and values, we need to keep Russia closely engaged in seeking common solutions both regionally and globally.
As you know, and as you can also gather from the dilemmas I have addressed in this speech, in a few days Sweden will find itself having to tackle many delicate problems in its role as President of the European Union. To those challenges that are known and predictable we must also add those that are unforeseen. And, as I learned from my experience in Brussels, “handling the unforeseen is often what defines a presidency”. But I am sure that Sweden will manage any unexpected developments and guide the Union capably and successfully. I wish you and your country every good fortune in exercising this important responsibility.