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PRESS RELEASE


Italian Prime Minister visits U.S., Calls for ‘New Peace of Westphalia’ in the Mediterranean

April 20, 2017 (EIRNS)—Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni is on a three-day visit to the United States and Canada, where he will discuss issues concerning the coming G7 summit in Italy, and also especially the crisis in the Mediterranean region, with President Donald Trump.

In a speech at the Georgetown Center for Strategic and International Studies today, Gentiloni called for a new U.S.-Italian alliance for leadership in the Mediterranean, based on the spirit of a "sort of New Peace of Westphalia or Helsinki Agreements."

Italy has three priorities in the Mediterranean, Gentiloni said: 1) controlling the refugee flows, 2) stabilizing the situation and 3) defeating terrorism.

On the refugee flows, "The figures are impressive" he said, speaking in English.

"Around 500,000 migrants were saved from death at sea by the Italian Navy and Coast Guard and by European rescue teams over the last three years. This dramatic situation requires renewed efforts, in a short- and long-term perspective. Indeed, there is space for a more vigorous international engagement, based on a reinforced American and European (in particular, Italian) leadership, aimed at stabilizing the states of the Southern Mediterranean."

Next,

"Libya remains on top of our priorities. In this country where the mistakes of our past lack of vision have been more evident, the clearer should now be our common engagement. I deem that upholding joint Italy-U.S. leadership is not only an opportunity, but a political must.... An inclusive political process could safeguard the unity of the country to the benefit of all Libyans, as well as of the entire region."

Gentiloni concluded his speech by saying:

"We need to cooperate to contain conflicts and to better manage crises. At the same time, however, we should start working on the definition of a new order for this region, that exerts such a profound influence on global order. Some sort of new Peace of Westphalia or some sort of a ’Helsinki agreement for the Mediterranean’ have sometimes been suggested. The limits of tracing such ambitious historical parallelisms are evident. Nevertheless, I believe that the consciousness that should guide us in this process has very much in common with the spirit that led the way to ending the wars of religion in Europe and, during the last century, to overcoming the Cold War."

During the questin-and-answer period, Gentiloni paid lip service to EU-U.S. policies on sanctions and even on Trump’s bombing of Syria, but when he was asked what suggestion he has for the United States, in view of Italy’s historically good relations with Russia, he said:

"Showing strength is necessary, but at the same time we have to engage Russia. To say that isolating Russia is productive is inaccurate. History shows that when Russia is attacked, it reacts with energy."

Gentiloni said we should study "the lesson of what happened in the ’80s, with Ronald Reagan."