A Speech by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Federica Mogherini, on the Italian Presidency of the EU

III COMMISSION OF THE CHAMBER OF DEPUTIES AND THIRD COMMISSION OF THE SENATE, XVII LEGISLATURE, 11th MEETING, 3 JULY 2014.

On 3 July 2014, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Federica Mogherini, delivered a speech before the III Commission of the Chamber of Deputies and the 3rd Commission of the Senate on the recent foreign policy developments in relation to the Italian Presidency of the Council of the European Union (EU).

The Minister highlighted the importance of a new chapter in the European foreign policy, which Italy will try to initiate during its Presidency and is expected to further continue under the Presidency of Luxembourg and then of Latvia. Priority has to be accorded to foreign policy measures that enhance relations with Eastern and Southern countries. Furthermore, other global topics and scenarios will be the subject of specific strategies. The Italian Presidency will focus on Asia, Russia, Ukraine, the Middle East and Northern Africa, including Libya, and continue monitoring crises areas.

As to Ukraine, the Minister said:

One of the issues on which we will have to work during our Presidency is the linkage between the NATO and European defence policies, also by implementing the decisions taken by the Council in last December. […]

In these days, hours and, most probably, throughout the semester, Italy will strive to fully implement the ceasefire as well as mutual confidence-building measures to downgrade pressure on the battlefield and establish a more peaceful situation on the ground. Furthermore, we will endeavour to support the economic and institutional reforms Ukraine has committed – and will have to keep on committing itself – to. With respect to this, I believe that the priority during Italy’s semester is to support the implementation of the association agreements signed last week by the EU with Ukraine, Georgia and Moldova. This is crucial, as it is an issue not only of security at our borders, but also of stability and development, whose absence may lead situations of tension to increase over and over again.

With respect to the Iraqi and Syrian crisis, the Minister stated:

Another sector in which Italy will exercise its supporting role of the European foreign policy during this semester will be the one relating to the Syrian crisis or, rather, the Syrian and the Iraqi crisis.
At this stage, the border between the two States has de facto disappeared and the risk looms large that the crisis could escalate to destabilise neighbouring States such as Lebanon, whose army Italy has been supporting as a tool to boost not only security but also – and foremost – national unity in the country. […]

In these days, also in this respect, we have been and we will keep on being involved in the situation, especially by means of humanitarian assistance.
We have allocated new funds through multilateral channels to address this on-going humanitarian crisis, where local refugees add up to Syrian ones in the framework of an extremely severe situation with regard to sanitation, food and most of all, I would say, politics.

The message that we are conveying to internal actors in Iraq and in the countries of the region that are capable of directly or indirectly exerting influence on Iraqi actors is to urgently set up a new government representative of all Iraqi societal components and, in particular, not only Shiites, but also Sunnis and Kurds. […]
We are thus witnessing a potentially unprecedented scenario within which Iran, Gulf countries, such as Saudi Arabia, and Turkey could share an interest for the stability of Iraq, and that was perhaps not predictable months or years ago.

Therefore, through bilateral actions, by means of continuous contacts, we are encouraging internal and external actors in Iraq to agree on this proposal for a new, unitary form of national government.

Having expressed her confidence in Italy’s capacity to bring an added value to the strategies through which the EU will address the Libyan crisis, the Minister stated:

It is important that for the coming weeks the international community – with the EU at the forefront as supported by Italy and in light of the concordant official conclusions of the last European Councils – urges the new Libyan Parliament to establish a government that enjoys the legitimacy and power enabling it to exercise control over its territory – with respect to this, the international community can certainly provide support, but Libya must express its national willingness to do so – and more specifically, not only on maritime but also on land borders.
This is the fundamental interest of the Libyan population too.
In this regard, our proposal at the European level suggests very clearly the strengthening of the EUBAM border-control mission. […]
Working together with the new Libyan Government will also be crucial to enable Libya to reactivate oil production, thus allowing it not to require international aid at all.
In fact, this country is not in need of economic or financial support, but rather of institution-building and control over the territory.

On the Western Balkans area and the reforms towards European integration, the Minister said:

Our work needs to secure for each and every country in the Balkans area that is already on its way towards European integration a further, very concrete step in that direction in terms of reforms, which allow political leaders engaged in such an effort to bolster the confidence of their citizens in the feasibility and effectiveness of this process. Failing to do so would entail the risk of a sentiment of internal frustration, which could slowly alter the scenario in an area that is so strategically important for us, not least in terms of security.

Still there are military missions in Kosovo and Bosnia, and the financial, commercial and external relations’ issues are also important. Clearly, Italy is one of the countries having a close relationship with each of these States and the region as a whole.

A similar approach, albeit in different terms, will be followed with respect to Turkey.

As to the post-2015 Development Agenda, the Minister said:

Finally, within the framework of the United Nations, our semester of Presidency will coincide with the start of activities on the EU Common Position on the post-2015 Development Agenda. Clearly, the goals will be finalised under the Presidency of Luxembourg, which is to start on 1 July 2015, but we will prompt a coordinated action at the EU level on this topic, linking it to the sustainable development goals.

Indeed, this is no longer only a foreign policy issue, but it has also become a problem associated with the world’s development and growth models.

Furthermore, in her reply during the question time, the Minister stated, with regard to Afghanistan, Italy’s agenda during its Presidency and the relationship with Russia, that:

[…] one of our priorities during the semester is to ensure that the EU keeps an eye on [Afghanistan’s] political transition, especially by paying attention to the protection and promotion of women and human rights activists. […]
Three are the key points of the Italian Presidency that I would like to bring to Europe with respect to foreign policy, also in light of our discussion: dialogue as an added value; a forward-looking view as to crises areas, conflicts prevention and post-conflict management; re-building of neighbourhood policies, with a question mark as to the ´re-´.
[…] Russia still remains a strategic partner, but we will have to devise new routes to restore the dialogue. With respect to that, Italy may provide support to the Union’s High Representative during the next six months. How to reinstate a strategic partnership between EU and Russia and NATO and Russia – the latter proving much more complex – remains the strategic issue in the background.
Until an effective solution is found with respect to the end of hostilities, border control and the release of hostages in East Ukraine, such a goal is to remain in the background, with no real chance for progress. […]

The mechanism for a trilateral dialogue among Ukraine, EU and Russia is indeed part and parcel of the last Council’s conclusions […].

We need to keep up the work on this side while striving to improve security on the ground, by working with Russia both at NATO and the EU level.

The full Italian version of the speech can be found at: http://www.camera.it/leg17/1058?idLegislatura=17&tipologia=audiz2&sottotipologia=audizione&anno=2014&mese=07&giorno=03&idCommissione=03c03&numero=0011&file=indice_stenografico

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