NEW YORK, NOVEMBER 17 – From sea of troubles to sea of opportunities. Even is only one per cent world surface, a significant part of global stability and security is played-out in the Mediterranean, and Italy, at the center of the Mediterranean, is bearing the brunt of this insecurity. But the Mediterranean, the “Mare Nostrum”, is also a “sea of many opportunities”: it’s a market of 500 million consumers; ten percent of global GDP; and this GDP grows at about four and a half percent yearly, the Italian Minister of Foreign Affairs Angelino Alfano told today a Security Council meeting on the security challenges in the region.
The focus of today’s Security Council meeting, which Italy had organized as chair for the month of November, is on an issue of worldwide implications, said Alfano. Italy’s strategy “has been to combine solidarity and security: we have proved that it’s possible to save more than half a million lives at sea; and, at the same time, contrast fundamentalists and extremists that despise the values of our open and democratic society”.
The UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, addressing the meeting, also saw both potentials and dangers stemming from the Mediterranean: “Developments in the region continue to shape the history and politics of the world. The Mediterranean Sea provides immense economic resources – such as hydrocarbons and fish stocks – and invaluable trade routes. However, its benefits depend on stability and cooperation. Indeed, the situation in the Mediterranean illustrates that peace and security are inseparable from democratic, economic and social progress, and from the advancement of gender, youth, minority and human rights“.
Alfano called for a joint effort of the international community: “The dividends of peace and security in a region that connects Europe, Africa and Asia are huge and they are global. It’s up to us to seize them“. Some of the issues mentioned in his appeal: “We need to do more together – as global partners – in controlling the routes that today could be taken by foreign terrorist fighters, after the defeat of Daesh in Iraq and in Syria. We must deepen information sharing between our intelligence agencies in order to identify jihadists and halt them in their quest for destruction. Our commitment against terror must extend far and wide, including in the Sahel, whose instability affects directly the security of the Mediterranean”.
From Libya and the Sahel, to Syria and Lebanon: “We are concerned by the latest developments in Lebanon, where Italy has invested deeply in peace and stability, especially in the UNIFIL peacekeeping mission. We call on all parties to respect the independence and integrity of Lebanon’s democratic institutions. There is no role in Lebanon for any foreign forces or militias other than the legitimate security forces of the Lebanese state”. Some words were spent on two issues that are front and center of Italian foreign policy: culture as a key pillar of sustainable development and religious freedom: “For fanatics, religion is only a pretext: they want to hold God hostage to their evil ideology. Therefore, we must do more to separate those who join their hands in prayer from those who hold a gun”.
Friday’s meeting was the second chaired by Mr. Alfano during his two-days visit to New York. Yesterday, under the rotating presidency of the Council for the month of November, the Italian Minister addressed its Member states on Libya. “Our goals for our presence in the Council have been reached”, Alfano told a group of Italian journalists earlier in the day: “We wanted from the beginning to bring the focus on three issues: Libya, the Mediterranean and the protection of cultural heritage”. A meeting on this third point has been scheduled for the end of the month.
To read Minister Alfano full speech, click here. (@OnuItalia)