Mr. President, Members of the Council, Mr. Ministers,
Italy condemns in the firmest possible terms the barbaric killing of 21 Egyptian Coptic Christian citizens in Sirte. To the families of the victims and the Egyptian authorities, we express our deepest condolences and solidarity.
The Libyan crisis is one of the most pressing, sensitive challenges facing the international community today. There has been a grave deterioration in the security situation, particularly in Tripoli, as evidenced by the attack on the Corinthia Hotel on 27 January, followed by other serious episodes. This requires all of us to support through every means the diplomatic action underway to solve the crisis.
Also thanks to this meeting of the Security Council, we are witnessing a growing awareness of the crisis and of the need for a timely solution. What we expect from this meeting is the realization once and for all, here at the United Nations, that we need measures that can stabilize the Country.
In its difficult transition toward democracy, Libya has remained vulnerable to divisions between the factions that have compromised the attempt to reinvigorate the Libyan transition. Although the elections produced a Parliament and a government that are recognized by the international community, they did not mark a turning point in the political process.
This fragile political and institutional framework risks being filled by the threats of terrorist groups against which we must hold strong and by the joining of forces of local factions and extremists. We cannot allow for this to happen. On the contrary, we must double our efforts to support the process of dialogue facilitated by the United Nations, which is showing increasing signs of vitality, with a view to the rapid formation of a national unity government that is able to stabilize the Country, assert its authority over the whole territory, and jump-start reconstruction.
Italy has supported the UN’s mediation efforts from the start, convinced that a political solution is the only way out of the crisis in Libya. Some preliminary results have been achieved at the Geneva and Ghadames meetings, thanks also to the dedication of SRSG Leon and Italy is pleased to have contributed to this progress by making available to the United Nations its network of contacts and providing logistic support for several sessions.
Our shared goal is to empower the moderate front in the Libyan political scene. We need a clear-cut, renewed commitment from all those who believe in dialogue as the only way forward.
The success of this dialogue requires and aims for the conclusion of a credible ceasefire respected by all the parties to the conflict throughout the Country. But the latest developments also send the message, loud and clear, that we do not have forever.
In Libya we are dealing not with monolithic blocks but rather with many different fronts that have their own internal conflicts. The splintering of the parties is both a challenge to and an opportunity for the UN’s mediation efforts.
The next few weeks will be crucial to the future of Libya. Italy intends to step up its support for the efforts of the United Nations and is ready to do its part in the framework of the decisions that the Security Council takes. At the same time, the deterioration in the situation on the ground demands a change in pace by the international community before it is too late. This is why Italy looks with expectation to the upcoming renewal of the UNSMIL mandate. The mission should be equipped with a mandate, the means, and the resources needed to accelerate the political dialogue, and to stabilize and assist a new reconciliation framework and a new national unity government in Libya.
The international community must send the message that – once the Libyans have reached the compromise needed to form a national unity government – it is ready to resume its cooperation and support.
And we must not find ourselves unprepared when that moment arrives. Otherwise we risk an immediate negative impact not only on the political sustainability of the National Unity Government, but also the advance of radicalism, and a worsening of the humanitarian situation. And allow me, before this august body, to recall the tragedy of the thousands of persons who flee the Country on unsafe vessels headed for the Italian and European coasts. Since the beginning of the year, the EU’s Operation Triton has already rescued 5,302 people from the sea, an almost sixty percent increase over 2014.
These statistics clearly indicate to us the dimensions of the challenge we face. What is happening in Libya has a profound impact both in Africa and in Europe, on both shores of the Mediterranean, with grave repercussions on the stability of Libya’s neighbors – including Italy – as well as on the success and sustainability of the transition processes in the area.
It will be our job, from the start, to assist the Libyan authorities in the stabilization of the Country. Even in the most optimistic scenario, this process will be long and fragile, requiring coordinated action by various international stakeholders. Italy is willing to take a leading role in this task, in the framework of a United Nations initiative. Italy is ready to contribute to the monitoring of the ceasefire and the keeping of the peace. We are ready to work to train the military, in a framework of integration of the militants into a regular army, and for the rehabilitation of the Country’s infrastructures. We are ready to treat and to heal the wounds of war and to resume our broad program of cooperation with Libya. The civilian population must clearly see the advantages of the reconciliation championed by the international community.
In conclusion, Mr. President, I wish to reiterate the full, resolute support of Italy for the stabilization of Libya through the dialogue sponsored by the United Nations. We do so fully aware, as we must all be, that the deterioration of the situation on the ground demands a change of pace from the international community. And it demands the maximum possible commitment from everyone to the pacification of the Country, to prevent Libya from becoming a victim of a blind and desperate terrorism.
Mr. President, Members of the Council, Mr. Ministers,