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10 Apr, 2017 17:00

‘New sanctions against Russia over Syria – another absurd, crazy idea by UK’ - Italian ex-FM

‘New sanctions against Russia over Syria – another absurd, crazy idea by UK’ - Italian ex-FM

President Assad’s fate belongs to the Syrian people, and this should be reiterated during the meeting of G7 foreign ministers, says former Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini. Russia should be viewed as an ally, not an enemy in fighting terrorism, he adds.

The Syrian crisis is likely to dominate G7 foreign ministers' talks in Italy. The two-day summit in the town of Lucca is the first chance for the G7 countries to discuss the issue since the US airstrike on Syria which followed an alleged chemical attack. An extended session on Tuesday will be dedicated to the conflict.

RT: After the alleged Syrian chemical attack, the West was sure Assad was to blame with no solid evidence presented. Now we're hearing voices insinuating that in fact, it's all Russia's fault. What do you make of such accusations?

Franco Frattini: My thought was the following. I think President Trump was obliged or forced to make such a tough decision to go on the first strike against the military base … because he has been blamed for being too flexible, too soft vis-à-vis Assad, for changing a position of America on ‘Assad has to leave immediately.' It was a decision to confirm that America is still capable of acting in a very strong and tough way. This is my opinion. It cannot and doesn’t mean that American President Trump changed the point of view that a political negotiation is needed. This was the most important political change since the coming of President Trump when he said the idea of Obama ‘Assad should leave as a precondition’ is a wrong idea; it belongs to the people of Syria to decide the fate of Assad. And this opinion in my personal perspective should be taken on the table. I hope, Secretary Tillerson and the Foreign Minister of Italy, Angelino Alfano will reconfirm during the meeting of foreign ministers of the G7 such an opinion. We cannot decide around the table whether Assad should leave now or not. This would be the conclusion of the political process, in that conclusion Russia should be considered as one of the biggest players around the table.

RT: London is pushing the G7 countries to impose new sanctions on Russia over its support for the current Syrian government. Is this really going to help solve the Syrian crisis? 

FF: Not at all. This would be another crazy idea following the crazy idea of imposing sanctions against Russia instead of fighting terrorism together. Europe pays the price for the loyalty to NATO, to the transatlantic alliance. All you know is that the government of Italy publicly said that it is time to rethink the sanctions-based policy of the West vis-à-vis Russia. I strongly hope not only that this absurd proposal coming from the UK will be rejected but that in the near future all the European member states will be reflecting on cutting sanctions and reviewing the sanctions while strengthening ties on fighting terrorism which is the threat number one to the[world]. Russia is an ally, not an enemy in fighting terrorism.

RT: The Belgian foreign minister has pointed out that the US attack was carried out without the approval of the UN Security Council. What do you make of that?

FF: It has been not the first time, but it reflects the opinion that President Trump expressed publicly on the role of UN. President Trump said on many occasions, the UN system runs [toward being] incapable to solve the crisis because of the blockades, because of the top powers, because [of] the reciprocal imposition of vetoes and so he said “If I have to go ahead, I have to go ahead immediately” because this is an interest for America. According to American legislation, when a supreme interest of America’s security is at stake, the President can go ahead without the approval of the Congress and - according to the opinion of President Trump - also without the approval of the UN.

Italy has been fighting from the very beginning for reforming the UN Security Council system in order to avoid the weakness of the process, in order to give the UN Security Council the possibility to move rapidly. I agree with the importance of investigating all the possible evidence. But in the case of urgent need, the UN system, unfortunately, proves to be incapable of reacting…

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.