Mandatory Dialogue with Eritrea: Italy’s FM Pistelli

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Italy, the current chair of EU, believes the source of Eritrean youth emigration is the extended national service program due to the unresolved problem with Ethiopia
Italy, the current Chair of the EU, realizes that extended militarization under the national service due to the unresolved conflict with Ethiopia is the driving force for Eritreans to flee in masses. The Q is, what can Italy do that others failed to do in order to stem the emigration?

By Paul Lambruschi,

ON THE agenda of Italy’s six month presidency of the EU is written as “African migration and development cooperation“.  But it reads more like “emergency landings”, because it means to combat the trafficking of human beings and prevent the journeys of hope.

Mr. Lapo Pistelli, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs with responsibility for Africa, who will chair an informal two-days summit tomorrow in Florence with the 27 EU ministers of development, is expected to explain Italy’s proposals.

Particularly, because 11 days ago he met the Eritrean president Isaias Afwerki to address the issues of migration and human trafficking, the man who in 20 years has transformed Eritrea into an isolated state from the international community that is under UN embargo and under investigation for violation of the UN human rights for military service and unlimited national service. In other words, that is the causes of the exodus towards the EU. 

Q: What does Italy proposes to the EU partners in the field of migration?

A: Implement long-term policies takes in to account the demography. For example, in 1950, Europe had a population three times that of Africa. In 2002, we were on a par, in 2050, Africa will have a population three times that of Europe. In a century of four generations, the situation has reversed. The only one is to have a structured relationship with this continent.

Q: Which kind?

A: First, the EU needs to create 500 million jobs in Africa with sustainable agriculture and energy. Then we have to stabilize fragile countries that are hit by conflict. To those who object that the presence in the Horn and in the Central African Republic is a waste of time because they are far away countries, I answer that they are not until they decide to move in their thousands to seek refuge and safety elsewhere.

Finally, these countries should be managed with the immigration emergency or leaks resulting from the collapse of Libya. We need to dialogue with all the six countries of the Horn plus the two transit to manage the an unstoppable phenomenon. Europe can not tolerate human trafficking which affects Eritreans, Sudanese and Somalis who are imprisoned and tortured during the transit from Sudan to Libya.

But what guarantees can you offer the Afwerki government?

None, but it is the only interlocutor. Among other things, he is in excellent shape, given what we read about his state of health.

What has he responded on human trafficking? UN accuses members of his government involvement …

That there are collusion in Libya and Italy and that you can not download all the responsibility on the government. My argument is that a country isolated and sanctioned tends to behave irrationally. Better to try to engage him on the issues. They have huge difficulties, since September alone, 30 thousand Eritreans have landed on our shores. The policy of isolation has not borne fruit.

My reasoning in meetings with him and with governments of Somalis, Sudanese, Ethiopian and of Djibouti is this: stabilized African regions have developed economically. It is their interest to cooperate with the African Union and the European Union. We start from the traffic and the fight against corruption of border police, a subject on which we all agree to sit at a table.

In October, a euro-African conference will be convened, perhaps in Sudan. You can not converse with strokes of the UN report.

Nor prevent the entry of the rapporteur on human rights as Asmara does. The forced and unlimited militarization at which the UN investigates and from which the Eritreans are fleeing in droves arises from unresolved conflict with Ethiopia. Italy What can Italy do?

The area of contention Badme is Eritrean. The situation then was frozen since 2001. I am the first to return to Asmara after some years and Ethiopia, the region’s leader, are not sorry of my visit. And we realize to open an embassy in Somalia in the airport area. Italy wants to engage in the Horn of Africa where it left a positive legacy.

And in Libya?

We must press the new government to accept the UNHCR and adhere to the Geneva Convention. It is not easy, 10% of the Libyan economy comes from the traffic, but there is no choice.

Mogherini Foreign Minister will go to Brussels or not?

Seems to me that things are moving, that the Minister has appreciated in Europe and that Prime Minister has played his cards well. (Software Translation from Italy)