The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Paolo Gentiloni Silveri, on arms export from Italy to Saudi Arabia

CHAMBER OF DEPUTIES, XVII LEGISLATURE, 699th MEETING, 26 OCTOBER 2016.

On 26th October 2016, during a question time taking place at the Chamber of Deputies, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr Paolo Gentiloni Silveri, clarified the Italian position on arms export to Saudi Arabia. He stated:

As you know, arms export is regulated by law n.185/1990, and the national authority UAMA [Unity for the Authorisation of Armament Materials] replies to any request for export after several Ministries have expressed their opinion on the matter. As regards in particular Saudi Arabia, applications for arms export licences filed by Italian companies are carefully and in-depth examined, on a case-by-case basis, in light of domestic, European and international law. Yet – as you know – the law provides that the Parliament shall be kept informed through an annual report, to allow monitoring and control activities. As showed by annual reports on arms export between 2011 and 2015, Italy exported armament material to Saudi Arabia and, as the Government has recently explained in this same Chamber, RWM – an Italian company forming part of a German group – exported to Saudi Arabia under licences granted in accordance with the applicable law. Saudi Arabia, unlike countries such as, for instance, Libya or Syria, is in fact not subject to any kind of international embargo, sanction or restriction on arms sale. During the last meeting of the Working Party on Conventional Arms Export in Brussels on 4th October, no policy change towards Saudi Arabia emerged among the twenty-eight member States. It goes without saying that, should the UN or the EU find any violations, Italy would immediately comply with any provision or ban. To conclude: first of all, we cannot point to Italy as a big arms dealer to Saudi Arabia. Without even mentioning the US, I want to recall that in the last period, 2012-2014, France sold arms for 5 billion and 100 million euros, the UK for 2 billion and 200 million, Germany for 1 billion and 900 million – while Italy for 700 million. Secondly, our diplomats are cooperating with the UN towards the only possible way-out to the Yemen crisis: a negotiated solution.

The full Italian version of this statement can be downloaded here.

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