A Statement by the President of the Council of Ministers, Mr. Enrico Letta, on the chemical attacks in Syria


On 11 September 2013, the President of the Council of Ministers, Mr. Enrico Letta, gave account of what had been discussed during the G20 Summit, held in Saint Petersburg on 5-6 September 2013. A session of the Summit, as well as bilateral negotiations, were devoted to the Syrian crisis and, specifically, to the chemical attack launched against civilians in the suburbs of Damascus on 21 August 2013. Concerning the reactions of the international community, Mr. Letta stated:

First of all, there is a completely clear condemnation, which has been reiterated in all national and international, formal and informal, meetings, against the use of chemical weapons, such as the one that has occurred last 21 August in the surroundings of the Eastern area of Damascus; there is also severe criticism against an act that without any doubt represents a crime against humanity, which as such requires a hard, ready and adequate reaction by the international community.

This is also the position of our American allies, to whom we confirm our closeness and friendship, especially today, on 11 September, a day that evokes a tragedy that must never happen again. As I was saying, the use of chemical weapons cannot become a precedent and represents the insurmountable redline; this is the denial of feeling ourselves as human beings in relation to others.

Thus, the international community must take its own responsibilities. Thus, we need to adopt deterrence measures capable of preventing in Syria, in the whole region and everywhere the use of these lethal instruments of death and fear. These instruments, I must recall, have been banned from the conscience of peoples, as well as from the law, more than ninety years ago.

The second pillar of our position, reaffirmed in Saint Petersburg, is the centrality of the role of the United Nations, which is the chief guarantor of international peace and security. This function cannot, and must not, be scathed. I am convinced that there still exists some room for manoeuvre – narrow but feasible – for the Security Council to adopt urgent and sharp measures in order to ensure that chemical weapons in Syria are secured and to prevent their use.

We need to go that way. Our government is working in every direction to encourage these dynamics at the diplomatic level, as we believe that a military action that goes beyond the legitimacy framework ensured by the United Nations will end up producing unforeseeable and dangerous reactions and counter-reactions.

For these reasons, we have decided and communicated to our allies that Italy will not take part in any military interventions in the absence of a pre-emptive mandate of the United Nations.

The full Italian version of the statement made by the President of the Council of Ministers can be found at:


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