Rome, April 26, 2011
FRANCE/ITALY/EU IMMIGRATION/SCHENGEN AREA
Q. – How far should the revision of the Schengen Agreement go, and can you tell us a little more about this joint letter you sent to Brussels? (…)
THE PRESIDENT – (…) There are some very simple things in the letter: we call for a strengthening of the joint effort, a joint assessment of the situation, the sharing of good practice, the strengthening of Frontex. A very, very simple point I came up against as Interior Minister is: who runs Schengen? Sorry to ask the question; I’m not criticizing anyone. Is it the interior ministers? If so, they should actually run it, because at the interior ministers’ meetings it’s not true that we run Schengen.
Must there be a dedicated team specifically to run Schengen? Isn’t that a topic for discussion? And I also said a word about the safeguard clause, which is a difficult matter, but we must have that discussion.
It’s because we believe in Schengen that we want to make Schengen evolve. Furthermore, for all European issues, do we really think that a 27-strong Europe – tomorrow a 32- or 33-strong Europe – can be run as it was when there were six or nine of us? Isn’t adapting the European institutions the rule? Wasn’t Schengen also a change from what existed before the Schengen meeting? It’s perfectly natural, and ultimately those who don’t want Schengen to evolve are the ones who don’t want Schengen at all. So we believe in freedom of movement, but we also believe in the rule of law and respect for certain rules. (…)
Q. – (…) You were the first to call for the intervention in Libya, but the fighting is currently in difficulty. How do you think this will end? How will the international community extricate itself? And do you think that in the future, beyond the air intervention, a ground intervention will be necessary? (…)
THE PRESIDENT – Just three brief comments. Firstly, if we hadn’t intervened in Benghazi there would certainly have been thousands or indeed tens of thousands of deaths. Nobody likes war and nobody enjoys ordering their country’s soldiers to intervene. I’d ask you to think about that. Benghazi has nearly a million inhabitants. Mr Gaddafi said his vengeance would be terrible, and when he says this you can believe him. Tens of thousands of deaths were prevented, and I can tell you it was a matter of not even days but hours, and nobody can dispute that. Today, I’m delighted that Italy and the Italian air force are standing by democracy and the civilian victims, because of the idea I’ve always had of Italian democracy. That’s the first comment.
The second comment is that, if we’re carrying out those strikes, it’s to achieve peace. It’s precisely because of this intervention, which is striking at military targets, that there’s a chance of peace in Libya. How can anyone think, how can anyone dare to say that Mr Gaddafi would have discussed Libya’s future without these strikes on military targets? So it’s not military targets or peace; it’s because there are military targets – and once again, thank you, Italy, for taking part – that we have a chance of achieving democracy and peace. It’s not one or the other: it’s one and the other.
And then the third comment, about soldiers on the ground: no. Why? Because we have a rule. That rule is the resolution taken by the United Nations, and the resolution taken by the United Nations doesn’t provide for an intervention by soldiers on the ground. Now, we can discuss interventions by intelligence agents or experts, but a military intervention on the ground isn’t provided for by the United Nations resolution. And our rule is to apply the United Nations resolution. Sorry to say this in such strong terms, but that’s what is going to happen. And in Côte d’Ivoire we French did exactly the same thing: we respected the United Nations resolution. (…)./.