Minister of Foreign Affairs Renato Ruggiero
Speech on His Visit to Washington D.C.
Chamber of Deputies
September 28, 2001
Mr. Speaker, Honourable Deputies,
I am delighted to have this opportunity to report to the Chamber of Deputies
on my trip to Washington and New York that took place on 25 and 26 September.
On the first of those two days, I had the chance to meet with the US Trade Representative,
Robert Zoellick, the US National Security Adviser, Condoleezza Rice, the US
Vice President Dick Cheney and the Secretary of State, Colin Powell.
On the second day, I had meetings in New York with mayor Rudolph Giuliani, with
the relatives of the missing Italians and with representatives of the Italian
community in New York. In the afternoon, I had a long talk with United Nations
Secretary-General Kofi Annan.
In my meetings in Washington, I illustrated the position of the Italian government
regarding the set of measures that are to become part of a far-reaching strategy
in the fight against international terrorism.
To illustrate our position, I referred to the recent and most important international
documents on the matter, and of which I enclose a copy:
the United Nations Security Council Resolution of September 12;
the UN General Assembly Resolution of the same day;
the Statement made by the North Atlantic Council again on September 12;
the Conclusions of the General Affairs Council and the European Union
Statement of September 12;
the Joint Statement by European Union Heads of State and Government of
the Statement by G8 Heads of State and Government of September 19;
the Conclusions and Plan of Action of the Extraordinary European Council
of September 21.
I also referred to the several declarations of great political importance that
have been publicly made by many members of the majority and the opposition.
The main points of my presentation were as follows:
in my capacity as Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Italian Republic,
I reiterated the feelings of solidarity of all the Italian people with the
people of the United States and particularly with the families of the victims
of the barbaric terrorist attack. I wish to recall, incidentally, that the
number of missing persons registered to date is just less than 7000 people,
and that so far only 1300 bodies have been found and only about 300 identified;
I then expressed the solidarity and support of the Italian government
and the Italian political forces for the American administration in the
fight against international terrorism. To this regard, I made explicit reference
also to the above mentioned General Assembly Resolution, which was approved
- I wish to point out again - by all members of the United Nations;
I then recalled that as members of the Atlantic Alliance, we had sustained
and approved the statement made by the North Atlantic Council on September
12 which set forth, among other things, the possibility of invoking Article
5 of the Treaty;
Accordingly, I affirmed that "the Italian Government stands ready
to participate in any action deemed necessary by the Atlantic Council, including
military operations, as stated in the same Article 5";
I recalled that government's position has the backing of the majority
of Italian political forces;
I underlined the statement made the Prime Minister on the government's
willingness to ask for a vote in Parliament, as was done, in fact, by the
American administration and by the Government of the Federal Republic of
I stressed that the position of the Italian government with regard to
the fight against international terrorism was also closely based on the
text of the Conclusions of the Extraordinary European Council of September
21. It is in this sense that Italy's commitment and that of our European
Union partners must be considered, to co-operate with the United States
in bringing to justice and punishing the perpetrators, sponsors and accomplices
of such inhumane acts.
I pointed out that the Conclusions and Plan of Action of the European
Council also affirm that on the basis of the United Nation Security Council
resolution 1368, a US risposte is legitimate. The Member States of the Union
are prepared to undertake such actions, each according to its means. The
actions must be targeted and may also be directed against States abetting,
supporting or harbouring terrorists. They will require close cooperation
with all the Member States of the European Union. Lastly, the Union calls
for the broadest possible global coalition against terrorism, under the
aegis of the United Nations.
In my presentation of the position of the Italian government, I made ample reference
to the need to avoid any action that could be interpreted as a desire to wage
a war of religion. To this effect, humanitarian aid to the worst stricken populations
in this crisis takes on a highly political value.
It is from this viewpoint that must be seen the mission about to be undertaken
by Under-Secretary Boniver to Pakistan on 1-3 October, and particularly to the
refugee camps, as well as our commitment to contributing to humanitarian aid
for Afghan refugees in Pakistan. Seven million dollars have already been earmarked
for UNHCR programmes. This commitment of ours is added to similar important
aid programs of the International Community and particularly of the United States
and of the European Union.
I constantly underlined, in each of my talks and also with the press, that the
inclusion of military operations in the overall strategy against international
terrorism constitutes only a part of this strategy, and not even the most important
I then mentioned the main areas, apart from military measures, in which which
the Extraordinary European Council indicated the need to develop broader cooperation:
Enhancing police and judicial cooperation;
Developing international legal instruments;
Putting an end to the funding of international terrorism;
strengthening air security;
Coordinating European policies in the field of security, defence and foreign
The visits currently being carried out by the community Troika to Pakistan,
Iran, Syria and other capitals of the Middle East are in fact focused on this
new dimension of European Union foreign policy. For my part, I am scheduling
a series of visits to the countries of the Middle East and Mediterranean area
and to Iran.
Allow me to make a brief comment. As often happens at times of great danger,
there are opportunities that can be seized. The need for a common European position
to implement the Plan of Action agreed upon by the Heads of State and Government
represents a great opportunity for us to make a quality leap forward in European
construction in sectors of great importance, such as judicial cooperation and
that of policing, and in particular, to make real progress in security, defence
and foreign policies.
I underlined in my talks that as far as Italy's position is concerned, we intend
to attach ample importance to all policies liable to reduce poverty in the world,
to fight hunger, to alleviate inequalities, to fight AIDS and other infectious
illnesses, to safeguard the environment, and to protect human rights and social
rights. In short, to continue with determination on the road we embarked upon
with the G8 in Genoa to build a better world.
That is how I presented the position of the Italian government, both to the
American authorities, and at the numerous meetings with the Italian and foreign
Lastly, I conveyed the desire of the Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi to visit
the United States as soon as possible. That visit should take place as early
as next week.
I would now like to sum up for you the reactions of my interlocutors.
My first impression was that I received a very warm welcome and feelings of
gratitude for the solidarity shown at all levels by our country with the victims
of the barbaric terrorist attack. There was no coldness or incomprehension regarding
Italy's position. The publicly reiterated American declarations bear witness
My second remark is that during my talks I was able to ascertain a great sense
of caution and responsibility in moving away from this phase of waiting, to
operational decisions. My interlocutors underlined several times that two weeks
have now gone by and no military operations have been launched yet.
Thirdly, all of my interlocutors stressed the importance of non-military measures
to fight international terrorism as part of a systematic and long-term strategy.
I would like to add that in my talks there was no discussion of possible military
measures, that being the left to the competence of the Ministers of Defence
and their scheduled meetings.
In this context, emphasis was placed not only on the need to constitute, but
also to preserve, the broadest possible coalition, and a significant role for
the United Nations. My American interlocutors emphasised their satisfaction
over the results that have been achieved and their interest in seeing a positive
evolution in some important countries, such as, for instance, Libya and Iran,
in the fight against international terrorism.
I recalled that Italy maintains friendly and cooperative relations with these
countries rooted in historical and geographical reasons and in traditional economic
ties. Italy also considers the complete involvement of all countries in the
fight against international terrorism to be of great importance. In this sense,
and in the absolute respect of the internal situations of every country, we
will go on developing relations to foster the full integration of such countries
into the international community.
Great importance was given to relations with Russia in its growing role as an
essential partner in the major political and economic decisions at European
and world level.
Moreover, a vital element of this strategy lies in our ability to extinguish
regional hotbeds of tension starting with the Middle East and the Balkans. I
assured my interlocutors that Italy and the European Union will continue to
work in this direction. In a world full of doubts and dangers, the meeting between
Shimon Peres and Yasser Arafat constitutes a ray of hope on the possibility
of resuming the path of peace whatever objective difficulties there may be.
Of great interest was my lengthy talk with the United Nations Secretary-General,
I gave him immediate assurance of Italy's strong interest, and likewise that
of the European Union, in maintaining the great coalition against international
terrorism under "the aegis of the United Nations" as affirmed in the
conclusions of the Extraordinary European Council of September 21.
To this regard, we discussed the possibility of a further evolution in the fight
against international terrorism that the United Nations has long been conducting
- I recall for instance the twelve Conventions on the matter that have already
been negotiated within the UN - for the creation of binding and operational
rules at world level.
Nobody can imagine that this is an easy task. But many feel, as I also pointed
out in my talks in Washington, the importance of such an evolution as an essential
element for a global strategy in which military operations are of less and less
importance, being able to be integrated and replaced by an international system
of rules and effective controls.
We agreed to stay in contact to develop this important evolution in international
law. We recalled the importance of the Indian initiative aimed at incorporating
into a new Convention - the text of which will be submitted to the General Assembly
for examination within the next few days - all the existing main elements in
the above mentioned twelve United Nations Conventions Nations on terrorism,
and of the Russian initiative of a Convention in the field of the fight against
nuclear terrorism that will also be submitted to the General Assembly for examination.
A few days ago a new important draft Resolution of the United Nations Security
Council was finalised. Presented by the United States, it aims at soliciting
all States to strengthen their cooperation in fighting and isolating international
terrorism, providing also for a mechanism to monitor the application of the
Resolution itself. On this ample project, to a large extent focused on the control
of financial flows and on cooperation in the exchange of information, unanimous
consensus was obtained among the members of the Security Council and it is likely
to be formally adopted this very evening so as to function as a reference frame
for the meetings of the General Assembly on the topic of terrorism that are
scheduled to begin on October 1st. This is a text of great importance.
A critical element for the success of this strategy within the United Nations
is the time factor. It is necessary to show that we are able, in the narrow
time frame available to us, to obtain satisfactory results in defining a binding
juridical framework at world level of rules and procedures in the fight against
In this perspective, and with particular regard to the financial aspects of
the fight against terrorism, yesterday's Council of Ministers approved a Decree
Law providing urgent measures regarding the freezing of assets, as well as other
financial measures vis-à-vis the Taleban regime in Afghanistan. This
provision is absolutely coherent with the United Nations Security Council Resolution
1333 of December 2000 and the Regulation issued by the Council of the European
Union of March 2001.
A last point on my talks with Kofi Annan: the United Nations Secretary-General
underlined to me the importance for our country to proceed as soon as possible
with the ratification of the two last conventions, the first against terrorist
bomb attacks of January 1998 and the second against the financing of terrorism
of December 1999.
I will make only a brief comment on my meeting with mayor Giuliani and with
the Italian community.
I did not feel at all any sense of criticism or reservation towards Italy's
solidarity with the Italo-Americans and our fellow countrymen who are still
missing, of which there appear to be ten.
Rudoph Giuliani told me he was moved that a large number of the bodies out of
the seven thousand or so missing people will never be found. This is the reason
why the first reconstruction effort will be to erect a shrine in the area of
the collapse to commemorate each of the missing people and to give their families
a place to remember them.
Our community and the members of the Italo-American world with whom I spoke
now await with great interest the visit of the Speaker of the Chamber of Deputies
the Hon. Casini and of Minister Tremaglia as well as the scheduled visit of
the Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi to the United States.
These are the conclusions of my meetings in Washington and New York.
The future holds some tough times, full of unknown factors. Our country has
a role to play, respecting the continuity of its foreign policy which is shared
when it comes to its basic choices by a large majority of our political forces.
This support is essential for Italy to continue to operate, fully loyal to its
membership of the European Union and the Atlantic Alliance, in favour of any
initiative that can foster peace and security for the entire international community.