After Yugoslavia’s (Serbia) President Slobodan Milosevic refused to accept the so-called Rambouillet Agreement, which in reality was NATO ultimatum that demanded from Serbia and Montenegro to allow NATO troops to occupy the province of Kosovo as well as that NATO can build bases in Serbia, and that all NATO personnel have diplomatic immunity, which means that they could not be held criminally responsible in Serbia and Montenegro, NATO aggression was launched without any authorization from the United Nations. The intervention was called humanitarian under the pretext of stopping the persecution of Albanians. Western media machine led against Serbs constantly negative media campaign. In media presentations by CNN and the BBC, the Serbs were the modern Nazis and Albanians the Jews. After they successfully presented the Serbs as the bad guys, NATO had a free hand to open aggression and excessive force. Western claims about tens of thousands of killed Albanians later turned out to be completely false. The real death toll in Kosovo before NATO aggression was revealed after the war and it was around 2,000 with the majority of the killings committed by the armed terrorist-separatist group, the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA). The KLA, previously classified by Washington as a terrorist organization, was elevated in the run-up to the war as the sole legitimate representative of Kosovo’s Albanian population. The KLA, working in close collaboration with US sponsors, sought to create as much violence and death as possible in order to pave the way to Western intervention.
On March 24, twenty years ago, NATO, under the leadership of United States of America began a war against Serbia and Montenegro, which lasted for 78 days. Hospitals, factories and schools were destroyed, along with bridges, roads and military infrastructure. The airstrikes killed around 2,500 people and wounded another 12,500. The bombing destroyed and damaged 25,000 housing units, 470 km of roads and 595 kilometers of railroad were disabled. 14 airports, 19 hospitals, 20 health centers, 18 kindergartens, 69 schools, 176 cultural monuments and 44 bridges were damaged while 38 were destroyed, according to Serbian estimates. During the bombing, 2, 300 air strikes were carried out on the 995 facilities across the country. NATO launched 1,300 cruise missiles, bombed Serbia and Montenegro with 37,000 “cluster bombs”, using prohibited ammunition with depleted uranium. The decision to bomb Serbia and Montenegro was made for the first time in history, without the approval of the UN Security Council. One of the NATO airstrikes used laser-guided bombs to take out railway bridge in southern Serbia, killing at least 10 people on a passenger train. A deliberate attack on the Serbian TV broadcaster RTS in Belgrade took lives of 16 civilian workers. This was the first case that the media house was declared a legitimate military goal. In one of the most provocative acts of the war, NATO carried out a strike on the Chinese embassy in Belgrade, killing three men. Washington claimed that the bombing was an “accident”. The “humanitarian” intervention to halt “ethnic cleansing” has resulted in massive ethnic cleansing. After NATO arrived, 250,000 Serbs were expelled from Kosovo.
Serbian marking of aggression
The central Serbian state ceremony of the 20th anniversary of the NATO aggression and the Day of Remembrance of the victims was held in southern Serbian city Nis, on March 24. Members of the goverment of Serbia, Chairman of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina Milorad Dodik, Petriarch Irinej, Serbian Army Chief of Staff Milan Mojsilovic, President of Republika Srpska Zeljka Cvijanovic, Ambassadors of Russia and China in Belgrade, Mr. Chepurin and Mr. Chen attended the memorial of the Day of Remembrance for Victims of NATO Aggression. Among those in attendance in the Serbian southern city, were also Prime Minister Ana Brnabic and President Aleksandar Vucic.
Addresing the gathering, Aleksandar Vucic said that the death of 2,500 civilians during the NATO aggression, and especially 79 children, will always be a crime for us. For them, it is just a mistake. We will never agree to that. Our people is not a mistake. We are numerically small nation, a nation ready to sacrifice, but also ready to reconciliation, he said. The president said that 1999 we had almost no friends, we were faced with a coalition of rich and powerful who had a clear goal of defeating us, taking from us part of our territory and giving it to somebody else. He pointed out that Serbia today is ten times stronger than in 1999, and stressed that, Serbia like Phoenix bird, recovered from both sanctions and aggression. He expressed gratitude to the Serbs from Kosovo as the best among us, who are guarding their Serbian name. Vucic said that Serbia decided that does not want to be part of the NATO, noting that Serbia does not threaten anyone, but only protect itself.
However, if official Belgrade had previously condemned the NATO aggression, this time, President Aleksandar Vucic has pledged Serbia to forgive the Alliance’s bombing. Throughout these years Belgrade has qualified bombing as an aggression, similar qualifications in the assessments of the Serbian leadership exist today, but with Vucic things are changing. Vucic’s words that Serbia was not sinless at that time and that Serbia should build normal relations with the Alliance practically coincides with the position expressed by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg on the eve of the anniversary of the aggression. The President of Serbia has canceled at the last moment military parade in city of Nis from March 24 to May 9. With that, Serbian President has made yet another conciliatory gesture. Regardless of the constant assurances of maintaining neutrality and the absence of the desire to join the Alliance, Belgrade actively and productively cooperates with NATO. Serbian army participated in 149 exercises together with the countries of the Alliance. Serbia, which for Russia is a key partner in the Balkans, has taken a number of significant steps towards NATO, signing several agreements.
And if the central state ceremony meeting in Nis should have been only a mark of NATO aggression, Serbian president also used this gathering for attacks on the opposition. “They started to demolish Serbia… My message this March 24 is – I am here between you and every year for five years we mark this day, and before that we called it a campaign, we were ashamed to call it with the real name, the crime, aggression. They started to tear down Serbia. I have nothing else to tell you, whatever happens, to me, to any of us, never allow them to destroy the freedom, independence and autonomy of the Republic of Serbia, ” stated Vucic. However, this year another scandal marked this 20th anniversary of the NATO aggression. In the Cultural Center of Serbia in Paris, the exhibition “Serbia 1999 – 20 years after – While the bombs fell” was open. But soon the paintings were withdrawn. The reason was that NATO officers would not feel bad. This knowledge provoked anger in the Serbian public, so the Government of Serbia was forced to order that the exhibition be re-presented to everyone. This example from Paris in the best way shows the current foreign policy of Serbia.
It is clear to every objective analyst that NATO carried out aggression in 1999 against Serbia and Montenegro. Everything that happened after 1999 proved that NATO’s primary goal was not the protection of human rights, but the abuse of this idea for classical geopolitical possession of strategic space, in this case, the southern Serbian province of Kosovo. The Serbian army fought heroically in Kosovo and it was not defeated on the battlefield. The withdrawal of the Serbian army from Kosovo was caused by an open threat from the West that it will exert over Serbia humanitarian destruction of the whole country. When the destruction of infrastructure did not gave results, NATO began hitting hospitals, trains full of passengers and throwing away so-called graphite bombs that destroyed the electrical network and left entire cities without electricity. Cluster bombs were thrown in the cities, and bombardment of depleted uranium kills Serbs even today.
NATO forces continued aggression on the rest of Serbia, by other means. Immediately after the bombing the regime change operation was supported, after which embassies of Western countries and international organizations that the West controlled began to “reform Serbia”. Shortly after the arrival of pro-Western authorities in Serbia, in October 2000, “the reform of the Serbian army” began. The majority of proven war officers were retired, while the number of soldiers was so low, to the level, at which the security of the country was seriously threatened. Through its agents of influence, the West played a major role in separating Montenegro from Serbia. High and primary education were, and still are literally destroyed, media has been dominated by foreign corporations. Yet again, two decades later, despite its propaganda and corruption of the elite, NATO is still undesirable among the ordinary people. Montenegro became a member of NATO by political violence, against the will of the citizens. Serbia and Republika Srpska continue to resist.
First published in our partner International Affairs
Significance of first EU-Bangladesh political dialogue
The European Union (EU) and Bangladesh held their first “political dialogue” on Thursday (November 24) in Dhaka to “elevate” their partnership by providing strategic direction and stepping up their cooperation on foreign and security policy.
Md. Shahriar Alam, state minister for foreign affairs of Bangladesh, leads the delegation there, while Enrique Mora, deputy secretary general of the European External Action Service (EEAS), represents the EU.
It was the first-ever political discussion in an effort to strengthen their ties at a time when Bangladesh’s influence is rising around the globe. All have an opportunity to discuss all sorts of political issues that they have shared concerns on.
When Foreign Secretary Masud Bin Momen and the Deputy Secretary General of the European External Action Service (EEAS) met in Brussels in October 2021, the two parties decided to begin the political dialogue.
For the first time, a political dialogue between Bangladesh and the European Union (EU) has been held in the capital Dhaka which bears some significance message for Dhaka and Brussels both. Various issues were discussed in the dialogue. However, things like democracy, fundamental rights, rule of law and human rights have gained importance. Bangladesh and EU have pledged to work together on these issues.
Besides, both sides agreed to sign a Partnership Cooperation Agreement (PCA) in view of 50 years of relations between Bangladesh and the European Union. It is reported that the agreement will include issues such as connectivity, defense, cyber security framework and addressing the risks of climate change. And the basis of this new legal framework will be human rights.
There is no doubt that the economic and political alliance of 27 developed countries of Europe will bring benefits to Bangladesh in various fields if cooperative relations are developed with the European Union. Such relationships are also important in the current global context. So, we welcome this initiative. It has not yet been determined when the partnership agreement will be signed.
However, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Shahriar Alam has expressed hope for its implementation in the context of 50 years of relations with the European Union. He said, ‘We have agreed to work on a partnership and cooperation agreement. It has a negotiation process. Taking into account the growing capacity, growth and journey of Bangladesh with the European Union, there is an opportunity to deepen and expand the relationship between the two sides.
One thing that has become clear through this dialogue is that the European Union’s interest in Bangladesh is gradually increasing. It was also understood in the speech of EU representative Enrique Mora at the end of the dialogue. He said, ‘We are reconsidering our relationship with Bangladesh for two reasons. One is the incredible growth and achievement of Bangladesh. That’s why we want to cooperate on various issues. The other is that we have important interests in the Indo-Pacific region. Our objective and strategy are to take a bigger position here. To achieve this goal, we want to increase the partnership with the countries of the region.
A country’s foreign policy is determined based on the country’s national interests. Just as the European Union has interests in strengthening relations with Bangladesh or countries in the region, Bangladesh also has interests in strengthening relations with the EU. Bangladesh’s policy makers have to adopt the strategy of how to make maximum use of this opportunity. There is an opportunity to expand the commercial relations of Bangladesh with the developed countries of Europe. Bangladesh needs the cooperation of those countries in the field of education, science and technology.
On issues like the Rohingya crisis, Bangladesh can expect the support of the EU in various international forums, including the United Nations. Bangladesh can also ask for special benefits for tourism in EU countries. Therefore, the potential of mutual cooperation created through the Bangladesh-EU dialogue, the sooner it becomes a reality, the better.
The EU recognized Bangladesh’s renewed national confidence and growth momentum and expressed interest in working with Bangladesh to address issues of mutual interest, including by emphasizing the Indo-Pacific.
The fields of collaboration between Bangladesh and the EU are growing, and both nations have a variety of international and bilateral interests. While convening the first-ever “political dialogue” between the two sides in this location, Bangladesh and the European Union (EU) indicated a strong desire to take their current relationships to the next level.
State minister Alam and EU representative Mora announced at a joint news conference that they have expressed a willingness to sign a “partnership cooperation agreement” to improve Bangladesh’s relationship with the EU. Alam stated at the briefing that “They (EU) do have such a pact with main economies of ASEAN.”
The state minister reported that during the meeting they also discussed finding a political solution through the repatriation of the displaced people from Bangladesh to Myanmar and examined the Rohingya situation from a security viewpoint.
Additionally, both parties discussed a number of topics of shared interest, such as security cooperation, free and fair Indo-pacific, the Ukraine crisis, food security, trade facilities, and the issue of continuing duty-free access for Bangladeshi goods to the market after Dhaka graduates from the LDC status. Charles Whiteley, the ambassador of the EU to Bangladesh, was also present.
The EU will also have a scheme for duty-free benefits called “GSP Plus. But EU puts some conditions. Bangladesh has made significant economic and social advancements in recent years. The most significant achievement Bangladesh might make in the next years will be leaving the LDC category. But the issue still stands: Will Bangladesh’s commerce sector be equipped to handle the challenges when it leaves the Least Developed Country (LDC) category in 2024? The most difficult part of the journey to seamless graduation appears to be losing privileged market access in many export destinations.
The largest buyer of Bangladeshi goods has historically been the European Union (EU), which accounts for 64% of all clothing exports and 58% of all exports overall. As a least developed country (LDC), Bangladesh has benefited from the finest Generalized Scheme of Preferences of the European Union programs with zero tariffs. One of the nations to make use of the EU’s preferred market access is Bangladesh. Therefore, following LDC graduation, Bangladesh must maintain its tariff preference in all significant markets, but especially in the EU market. The country’s exports would increase if favorable tariffs were used to maintain export competitiveness. As a result, there would be more manufacturing, more export revenue, more employment opportunities for women, and ultimately less poverty.
Both parties should prioritize the issue. As Bangladesh is on the way of development, EU should support Bangladesh to be a developed country. Bangladesh has been included in a new EU initiative named “Talent Partnership’.
Bangladeshi migrants are increasingly choosing to go to Europe, particularly to Italy, Greece, Spain, and Portugal. The EU insists on stopping unauthorized immigration, and both are working to do so. Although there is still space for improvement, Bangladesh has achieved great strides in the area of labor, and the EU is pleased with it.
The EU has supported Bangladesh strongly on the Rohingya issue and this is discussed in the meeting. Bangladesh looks for financial aid for climate change adaptation as well as technology support for renewable energy. The discussion centers on the need for a free and open Indo-Pacific region and cooperation in counterterrorism initiatives.
After the loss of the duty-free and quota-free market access facility in the EU under the Everything but Arms (EBA) scheme in 2029, Bangladesh shall work to take advantage of the Generalized Scheme of Preferences Plus (GSP+) facility of the European Union (EU).
Bangladesh is going to sit in political dialogue with the European Union (EU) for the first time. The deepening and broadening of relations with the EU and the current complex geopolitical context necessitate a political dialogue.
In addition to discussing bilateral relations, political discussions were held on the three issues discussed in the Bangladesh-EU Joint Commission meeting since 2001 namely development cooperation, trade and good governance and additional issues of human rights. The purpose of this political dialogue is to give a strategic direction so that the stakeholders understand what they have to do.
Security issues was discussed on a large scale in this forum. The security agenda covers terrorism, cyber security, peacekeeping, food and energy security, climate change, international crime and more.
The two sides discussed about creating and expanding the cooperation relationship on the issues between the two sides. The EU has already announced its Indo-Pacific Strategy. Bangladesh’s position on the Indo-Pacific is being worked on. Besides, there are various mechanisms of cooperation between the countries of this region. The region’s importance was greater than ever as the world’s center of power shifted towards Asia. Regional cooperation is very important to the EU and they want to know how Bangladesh is positioned in the region – that is normal. Enrique Mora also said that Bangladesh has become an important state with excellent economic progress.
More important for Bangladesh is Rohingya repatriation. On the other hand, the situation in Myanmar is normal for the EU. EU countries have been supporting the solution of the Rohingya crisis since its inception. But after the military seized power in February last year, restoring democracy in Myanmar became paramount to them and the Rohingya issue took a back seat. The two sides must highlight their respective positions and discuss how to work to resolve the issue. It is not the only issue of Bangladesh. Again, this is not a bilateral issue between Bangladesh and Myanmar. He said, this is an international problem. The international community should be concerned about this. EU IS putting pressure on Myanmar’s military authorities by suspending various types of sanctions and development aid, including arms. The EU reiterated its gratitude for the continued generous role and actions of the Government and people of Bangladesh to temporarily shelter more than 1.1 million Rohingya forcibly displaced from Myanmar for more than five years.
However, to ensure mutual advantage, EU and Bangladesh can cooperate in a variety of fields and approaches. This initial political discussion may open the door to further fortifying the bonds.
European Parliament Declares Russia as Sponsor of Terrorism: Implications and Future Developments
European Union’s relations with Russia has taken a different complicated turn, this time declaring Russia as a state sponsor of terrorism. What are the significance and implications the European parliament, arguing military strikes on Ukrainian civilian targets such as energy infrastructure, hospitals, schools and shelters, to classify and finally vote in favour of a resolution calling Russia a state sponsor of terrorism? Why should the European parliament take this decisive legislative step at all giving this status to Russia?
The European parliament at a plenary meeting in Strasbourg on November 23 declared Russia as “a state sponsor of terrorism” around the world. The resolution passed by 494 votes, while 58 deputies voted against and 44 abstained. The document brings a number of accusations against Russia. The bloc has already imposed a series of unprecedented sanctions on Russia over its special military operation in Ukraine which began February 24. European lawmakers, in a largely symbolic move, now voted for this measure against Russia.
The Yermak-McFaul sanctions group, in a special project for independent newspaper Ukrainska Pravda, pointed to six main consequences of the potential U.S. designation of the Russian Federation as a state sponsor of terrorism:
1. Symbolic: recognition of Russia as one of the main global perpetrators of atrocities and terror, which the country carries out against civilian populations.
2. Diplomatic: reduction of formal ties and joint programs between the U.S. and Russia, along with increased diplomatic isolation of Russia.
3. Sanctions and restrictions on transactions: it will be illegal for American individuals and legal entities to participate in financial transactions with the Russian government, Russian state-owned banks and enterprises, and persons connected with the Russian government.
4. Secondary sanctions against entities that are connected, for example, by transactions with Russia and its institutions. This means that the U.S. and its allies can impose sanctions (usually financial or trade) on any country that continues to cooperate with the Russian Federation, prompting other countries to avoid such cooperation.
5. Blacklisting of the Russian Federation by The Financial Action Task Force (FATF):unlike the partial disconnection of Russian banks from SWIFT, this step would affect the banking system of the Russian Federation in its entirety, rather than in selective parts (this would mean the blocking of correspondent accounts of Russian banks around the world, including in China).
6. Enabling judicial, executive, and other actions against Russia directly by voiding Russia’s sovereign immunity, thereby allowing the real possibility of bringing Russia to justice in the courts of other countries. Normally, a court of one country cannot issue judgements against another country. However, a state sponsor of terrorism designation creates an exception to sovereign immunity in U.S. courts.
There have been several media reports. As the BBC has noted, there have been other attempts to designate Russia as a “terrorist” state. In the spring of 2018, after an assassination attempt by the Russian special services on Sergei Skripal and his daughter in the UK, the ranking Democrat on the U.S. Senate Foreign Affairs Committee, Robert Menendez, called for this step against Moscow. In December 2019, the Committee supported a bill introduced by Republican Senator Cory Gardner to recognize Russia as a sponsor of terrorism.
Despite these calls, Russia has still never been included on this list. However, the savage and brutal full-scale war that the Kremlin is waging against Ukraine has repeatedly strengthened both Kyiv’s calls for this step and the grounds for it.
On May 12, 2022, members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee Republican Joe Wilson and Democrat Ted Lieu introduced a bipartisan resolution proposing to recognize the Russian Federation as a state sponsor of terrorism.
“By designating Russia as a state sponsor of terrorism, the United States would be able to ban dual-use exports to Russia and take economic action against other countries that do business with Russia,” argued Rep. Lieu in a joint statement with his Republican colleague.
“What’s more, the U.S. could further inflict pain on Russia by freezing the country’s assets in the U.S., like real estate. We know that Russia provides sanctuary to a U.S.-designated terrorist group and has employed mercenaries with histories of human rights violations. A state sponsor of terrorism designation is a common-sense way to further aid Ukraine.”
They also recalled that in addition to war crimes in Ukraine and “the bloodbath that has already resulted in the death of unknown thousands of Ukrainian civilians and soldiers.”
“However, Russia’s involvement in international terrorism is more expansive and has been well documented for years, whether through direct attacks or orchestrated through private military networks and hired thugs. Their reign of terror must be stopped,” they urged.
In a recent article, the news magazine Foreign Policy analyzed why the hypothetical decision to recognize Russia as a sponsor of terrorism has drawn skepticism.
“U.S. officials and experts familiar with the matter describe a debate within the National Security Council and State Department on the merits of the move, with some officials arguing that a [state sponsor of terrorism] designation would send a powerful signal of support to Kyiv and others arguing that it wouldn’t have much of a practical impact, given that Russia already faces one of the strictest sanctions regimes in the world,” the publication reports.
On the other hand, other experts argue that the recognition of Russia as a state sponsor of terrorism would have a significant reputational effect. The move would increase pressure on the Kremlin and make virtually any relationship with Russia impossible for U.S. citizens, writes Politico. According to Atlantic Council sanctions expert Edward Fishman, “Labeling Russia as a state sponsor of terrorism would be significant because it’s a blanket measure… [It] brings risk to any relation-ship with Russia.”
He also added that a congressional mandate to grant the Russian Federation such a status would make any secondary sanctions against Russia “far more effective.”
In addition above, the Swiss daily Neue Zuercher Zeitung’s columnist wrote that “Emotionally, this decision can be understood, but it entails no legal consequences. Moreover, it is politically meaningless,” columnist Daniel Steinvorth believes. In his opinion, the resolution adopted “looks powerful”, but in reality, it is such “only verbally.”
The author draws attention to the fact that the decision of the parliament “is not binding” for either the European Commission or the countries of the European Union. The European deputies’ demand for reducing official contacts with Russia to an “absolute minimum” has been “met long ago,” taking into account the expulsion of Russian diplomats from the EU countries after the start of a special military operation in Ukraine, the columnist noted.
Steinvorth recalls that the United States, unlike the EU, does not consider Russia a sponsor of terrorism, because it is well aware that “at some point the West will inevitably have to sit down again at the negotiating table with Russia,” while “terrorists are not to be negotiated with.” Strasbourg “prefers not want to wait for this moment and hurries to attach labels instead,” the observer laments.
On the other hand the widely circulated daily Russian newspapers have, during the week, attempted to offer some analysis behind the European parliament’s move to brand Russia a ‘state sponsor of terrorism’ for its actions in Ukraine and interviewed for views from so many political experts. For example Izvestia
“This decision cannot have any legal consequences, because the European Parliament does not have any appropriate prerogatives. However, there are political implications, and the resolution may propel this issue legally,” Associate Professor of the Department of Integration Processes at MGIMO Alexander Tevdoy-Burmuli told Izvestia. The expert said the EU could later make decisions to facilitate the recognition of a third country as “a sponsor of terrorism”.
Director of the Center for European Information, Associate Professor at MGIMO Nikolay Topornin doubts the EU will soon be able to tweak its legislation for that. “This resolution would rather attract the attention of Africa, Asia, the Middle East and other regions,” he told Izvestia. And Tevdoy-Burmuli did not rule out that the EP could use this resolution to try and deprive Russia of its say at the United Nations Security Council, even though the procedure of stripping a permanent member of its right to veto is not envisaged in the organization’s documents.
What’s more, the resolution came as no surprise for Moscow. According to First Deputy Chairman of the Federation Council Committee on Foreign Affairs Vladimir Dzhabarov, the European parliament is no longer playing a decisive role, and all it has been doing of late is inciting enmity between nations. The senator suggested Russia, in its turn, should approve a document recognizing all NATO countries as “sponsors of terrorism” for the massacre of civilians in Yugoslavia, Libya, Iraq and Afghanistan.
The European parliament at a plenary meeting in Strasbourg on November 23 declared Russia as “a state sponsor of terrorism” around the world. The resolution passed by 494 votes, while 58 deputies voted against and 44 abstained. The document brings a number of accusations against Russia. The European parliament further asked the Council of the European Union to broaden the list of sanctioned persons and called on “all EU candidate countries and potential candidates to align with the EU’s sanctions policy.”
The European parliament “calls on the Commission to come forward with a legislative proposal to amend the current EU Global Human Rights Sanctions Regime […] by extending its scope to include acts of corruption, to swiftly adopt targeted sanctions against individuals responsible for high-level corruption in Russia and Belarus, as well as their EU-based enablers and beneficiaries,” the resolution says.
It “asks the Commission and the Member States to consider possible measures against countries that try to help Russia circumvent the sanctions imposed; urges the Commission to ensure that national penalties for breaching EU sanctions are effective, proportionate and dissuasive.”
“European Parliament members have given the member states an idea of developing a European Union’s legal framework ‘for the designation of states as sponsors of terrorism and states which use means of terrorism’ and called on European capitals to put Russia on this blacklist so that no one has any doubt which state they mean. The absurdity of this idea is evident to all but European Parliament members who supported it,” the mission wrote on its Telegram channel.
According to the mission, “the task set by the European Parliament is simple – to whip up confrontation with Russia by all possible means.” It is being done at the expense of the wellbeing of people who are faced with the adverse impacts of the anti-Russian sanctions, it added. Brussels has is a framework definition of terrorism and a list of terrorist organizations, and the resolution will not have any judicial consequences for Russia. Although resolutions are not legally bunding and are recommendatory, they are widely used in the EU media and political environment to promote and disseminate specific political positions.
In addition, European deputies recommend “an immediate and full embargo on EU imports of Russian fossil fuels and uranium, and for the Nord Stream 1 and 2 pipelines to be completely abandoned.”
Earlier, the NATO Parliamentary Assembly published a resolution, which recommends that Russia be designated “a terrorist regime.” A similar resolution was adopted by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) in October. The European Parliament resolution adopted is an advisory recommendation for consideration by the European Commission and the Council of the European Union.
Italy-Gulf Bilateral Ties: More Room for Growth
Due to historical and geographic factors, Italy has rarely figured as a protagonist in the dynamics of the Gulf region and it has mainly focused its foreign policy activism on its immediate neighborhood: the Mediterranean and North Africa.
However, Rome has signaled an interest in playing a more visible, active role in the GCC space and Italy-Gulf bilateral ties have registered exponential growth during the past decades. Three main areas of cooperation – security, economy, and energy – have significantly contributed to building a friendly diplomatic environment.
Italy came to play a more significant role in the Gulf area in the early 1990s by contributing to the US-led Operation Desert Storm against the backdrop of Saddam’s invasion of Kuwait.
Although Italian troops were rarely dispatched to the Arabian Peninsula since then, they visibly contributed to promoting security and stability in the GCC’s immediate neighborhood. Italy took an active role in the US-led Global War on Terrorism after 9/11 by participating in military missions in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Italian troops rarely engaged in combat operations when deployed to the Middle East. In most cases, Italy’s armed forces were tasked with non-combat duties. As a peacekeeper, an interposition force separating warring parties in combat zones, and head of training programs for local security forces, Italy’s army has consolidated a decades-long experience in deconfliction.
Italy has always been characterized by a strong maritime vocation and a long naval history. Still today, Italy markedly depends on sea transport lanes for its trade and energy supplies. Therefore, Italy is deeply committed to freedom of navigation and safe transit across chokepoints.
Through its naval assets, Italy is devoted to improving the security and stability of shipping lanes, providing mariners with a safe maritime environment, and intervening and protecting them from the malign activities of state- and non-state actors.
Italy has emerged as an active contributor to several maritime security platforms implemented in the waters off the Arabian Peninsula. From the US-backed Combined Maritime Forces to the counter-piracy EU NAVFOR Operation Atalanta and the French-led European Maritime Awareness in the Strait of Hormuz mission, Italy has regularly dispatched its naval assets to protect shipping lanes in Middle East waters.
More recently, Italy’s armed forces will contribute to ensuring the defense and security of Qatar’s 2022 FIFA World Cup. The Italian contingent will provide full-spectrum support to the Qatari security forces to ensure the safe and regular running of the sporting event, which is expected to gather thousands of football fans.
As the second EU manufacturing powerhouse, Italy eyes the GCC market as a promising destination to export its commodities and services. Italy-GCC trade exchanges are still adjusting to the shocks brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic and the Russia-Ukraine war, but data for the 2022’s first-semester signal a promising positive trend that, in most cases, markedly outweighs the same period in 2021.
While single cases display slightly different figures, precision mechanical products, chemical products, food products, pharmaceutical and medical products represent the bulk of Italian export to the Gulf region. Among the GCC member states, the UAE stands out as the biggest recipient of Italian export, with a value of roughly 3.8 billion euros between January and August 2022.
Some GCC countries have positioned themselves at the forefront of the freight and passenger transport industry. Many Gulf-based companies have consolidated sound expertise in offering logistics services as well as storage and distribution solutions.
Due to their capacity to develop more competitive and efficient logistics solutions that suit the increasingly demanding needs of constantly adjusting global markets, Gulf-based logistics companies have positioned themselves as trendsetters in the transport industry. Thanks to its unique geography, the Arabian Peninsula is set to become a critical transmission knot in global trade supplies and a vital logistics connector between East and West.
With a close interest in gaining a solid connection to global trade lanes to export its high-value-added commodities while securing stable access to supply chains to import energy products and raw materials to process at home, Italy eyes with growing attention the home-grown logistics solutions offered by the Gulf countries.
With a solid industrial fabric and no direct access to domestic energy sources, Italy has traditionally satisfied a high-quantity demand for electric energy for industrial and residential use by heavily importing energy products. However, the shortcomings of energy supply chains that emerged during the Covid-19 pandemic, the growing concerns regarding the long-term implications of climate change, and the severe impacts of the Russia-Ukraine war on the global energy markets have driven Italy to double down its efforts in further diversifying the country’s energy mix and pivoting it towards green products.
While the GCC states still see the export of hydrocarbon products playing a prominent role in their economies, they all have set for themselves ambitious decarbonization targets and are investing massive financial resources in the development of state-of-the-art solutions to support the green transition. With the GCC countries eyeing growing attention to creative initiatives to pivot their economies away from an oil revenue-based model, Italy-Gulf ties might reach new heights through cooperation in renewable energies-driven joint initiatives.
With a new parliament taking office and a government swearing-in last October, Italy has recently entered a new phase of its political lifecycle. Still, Italy’s positioning in the international arena is unlikely to experience radical changes.
By nominating some veterans of Italian politics at the top of critical ministries, such as the then-President of the European Parliament Antonio Tajani at Foreign Affairs and Guido Crosetto at the Defense, the government headed by PM Giorgia Meloni signals to international observers that Italy’s geopolitical and strategic posture will remain solidly anchored in the Atlantist and European camps.
PM Meloni’s pragmatic understanding of international affairs calls for the new Italian government to maintain a reassuring foreign policy posture. The Mediterranean and North Africa are bound to remain the priority areas where Italy will spend most of its diplomatic energies. Still, the need to cultivate more profound and meaningful ties with the Gulf countries is gradually becoming more relevant in Italy’s foreign policy compass.
Rome’s latest moves in the Gulf tell a story of growing resolve by Italy to contribute to upholding a secure maritime environment. The dispatching of troops and warships is a concrete display of Italy’s increasing interest and closer attention to the Gulf and its geopolitical undercurrents.
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