Faced with such complex crises, a multilateral instrument of governance of the Mediterranean is missing. Italy is committed to putting in place everything that can help a stabilization process and a return to constitutional normality. The proposals of the President of the Foreign Affairs Commission of the Chamber
Italy looks with interest and apprehension at what is happening in neighboring Tunisia due to the consequences that the current crisis in that country may have.
Piero Fassino, a leading exponent of the Democratic Party and chairman of the Chamber’s Foreign Affairs Committee, how do you evaluate the latest events that have shaken Tunis?
“We are following with great apprehension and concern what is happening in Tunisia. A country already exhausted by Covid-19 which has hit the local population hard, by a very serious economic crisis that has been dragging on for months and now from an institutional political crisis. We cannot fail to be worried in light of the fact that Tunisia is located in a geopolitical quadrant that knows other delicate points: I am thinking of Libya, the Horn of Africa and the Sahel in a context characterized by a high rate of instability ”.
Where does this apprehension come from and what are the main fears?
“The apprehension derives from the modalities of the events of these hours, in the sense that the Tunisian president, Kais Saied, invoked the application of article 80 with a very extensive interpretation: he suspended the activity of parliament, he replaced the first Minister and various ministers, he appointed the commander of the presidential guard as Minister of the Interior and also assigned the judicial powers to himself. Choices that raise many questions about to what extent these choices are actually authorized by article 80 and whether there is an interpretation that goes beyond the article itself “.
In addition to the protests in front of the parliament of the leaders and militants of the Islamic party of Ennahda, there were also demonstrations of support for these measures by the Tunisian president.
“It is true that there have been demonstrations of consensus, which I believe have their reason in the distrust of a large part of public opinion towards the ruling class of the country judged unable to face the health and economic crisis, but the risk should not be underestimated of a vertical split in Tunisian society and that there is a frontal opposition planter of further involution and dangerous radicalizations ”.
What can the international community do to avoid this?
“It is certainly up to Tunisians to decide the fate of Tunisia and not to those who live outside it. Yet I believe that the international community must pay attention to that country by implementing actions that favor a solution, preventing the crisis from precipitating. I am speaking of a solution on three points: respect for the Constitution, restoration of Parliament’s activity and activation of a national dialogue involving all the political and social forces of Tunisia for a national plan of rebirth around which to mobilize, without exclusion, all energies of society “.
Do you also have other initiatives in mind?
“The international community must not only accompany a path of this nature, but also carry out concrete acts of solidarity by ensuring the vaccines necessary to face the Covid-19 emergency, sending economic aid to facilitate recovery and accompanying the path of return to constitutional normality . It is very important not to forget the context in which the Tunisian crisis takes place. The Mediterranean has never been crossed by so many crises as in recent years. From the Strait of Hormuz to Gibraltar we see a sequence of instability and crisis: from the criticality of Iran, to the fragility of Iraq, to the civil war in Syria and Yemen, to the instability of Lebanon, to the Horn of Africa with Somalia and Ethiopia, up to the Libyan affair and the Tunisian crisis, not to mention the Sahel area and the risks deriving from jihadist penetration. A strategy for the stabilization of the Mediterranean is needed ”.
So what is the missing tool to do this?
“Faced with such a complex crisis framework, each with its own specific reasons, a multilateral instrument of governance of the Mediterranean is missing. The two tools we had in the past few decades are now ineffective. I am talking about the cooperation and security system defined by the Helsinki agreements of 1975, for which there is no longer the geopolitical context, nor the actors who signed that agreement, and the Euro-Mediterranean strategy of Barcelona in 1995. Now there is the need for a new multilateral strategy. The European Union is so aware of this that in recent weeks the European Commission has put forward the proposal for a New Agenda for the Mediterranean. A right step that must be filled with contents and operational tools in order to be effective and bring the interventions to solve individual crises back into an organic framework ”.
What is Italy’s role in relation to this crisis?
“Italy is interested in what happens in Tunisia and everything that happens in the Mediterranean. Let’s not forget the contiguity with Libya. Italy is the country that has spent the most in assisting Tunisia in recent years, both to help it in the economic crisis, and to try to manage the migration issue together and it is clear that in these hours we are attentive and committed to putting field everything that can help a process of overcoming the crisis, stabilization and return to constitutional normality ”.