Syria, a Deal can still be made

By Emma Bonino

emma boninoThere is still time to negotiate, Emma Bonino is convinced of that. The United States of America will take some time before they drop their missiles on Syria. In the meantime it’s possible to try to put politics on the ground again, since Europe seems to finally have found a common position (or at least something similar to that) and can try to exercise its role.
To reach this common position it was necessary to subscribe, among others, a document that condemns Assad very heavily, highly called for by the United States. At the end Germany has signed it too, after a change of mind determined also by the convincement job made by the Italian Minister of Foreign Affairs on the German colleague Westervelle.

Minister Bonino, isn’t this document in contraddiction with the Italian position?
“Italian position hasn’t changed. President Letta, Minister Mauro and I have in several circumstances affirmed the firmest condemnation against the use of chemical weapons. Trans-atlantic solidariety has never been questioned and our signature to the document is the proof of the strength of our tie with Washington, and demonstrates our understanding of the political reasons that drive the USA. But we have repeated to our American friends our aversion to a military action decided outside the UN context and before the inspectors have presented their conclusions about the detestable attack with chemical weapons.”

If we could go back two years, would you still be favourable to an international intervention in Libya?
“Libya and Syria are two very different realities. In Libya there is a tribal system which is still very radicated, with armies that belong to different sides and hold a fundamental role in ensuring the security in the area assigned to them. In the Syrian case, there was a proper State governed with an iron hand by the Alawites that maintained important alliances with Sunni areas and with various religious minorances. The balance has been broken. Assad has chosen generalized and cruel repression against his own people and, like Gheddafi, he will sooner or later find himself to pay a price for that. But it is not through an external military intervention that the country can be stabilized, since even inside the opposition there are bitter conflicts and on the ground I don’t see a faction that might prevail.”

What can be the “political solution” that Italy invokes for the Syrian crisis?
“The situation that has emerged after the G20 and the informal reunion among the European Ministers of Foreign Affairs in Vilnius does probably leave us a gap of time before the eventual military action during which we must strongly look for alternative proposals that can coagulate the highest possible agreement. After the presentation of the report by the inspectors, it is desirable that a resolution of the Security Council of the United Nation is put on the table to be acceptable for everybody. The political solution that Italy has supported has already been drawn by Geneva 1 and it implies various steps like a cease – fire, the creation of a provisional Government, the return of the refugees….”

Before the massacre of the 21st August, many were convinced that the West, considering the outcomes of the revolutions in Egypt and in Lybia, had decided to leave Assad in his place. Is it still so?
“Assad sooner or later will be forced to leave his place. History and his people have condemned him forever, and the matter is not if Assad will stay, but when he’s going to be forced to leave. Not even any of his allies, like the Russians, do believe that he represents the future of Syria.

Can we still believe in a democracy in the Arab countries?
“For sure. The Arab spring with its still vital convulsions has marked the beginning of a process strongly desiderd by different Arab peoples, to become societies where any social component can freely express itself, and exercises its fundamental rights. Maybe it’s not fully aware yet that alongside the rights there are duties as well. There still are many steps to take to get to accomplished democracies. But also in the Western countries, and in Italy in particular, we can’t really give any lessons about it, when we are ourselves criticized by international organisms for our judicial system, the treatment of prisoners…”

How was the Italian position received in Washington? Is it true that the United States are irritated with us?
“The facts do speak. There was no irritation by the United States, who have clarified that the purpose of their diplomatic action is to acquire the political support for their position and not necessarily the participation to any eventual military action. A support that Italy has always guaranteed.”

Traduzione di Elena Cavucli

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