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548 words - July 30, 2013 | © DiploNews, all rights reserved.
In remarks to the General Debate of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in September 2012, former Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti told that instability around the Mediterranean, mainly as a result of the Arab Spring, would inevitably impact Italy and the European Union (EU).
"Conflicts and social unrest on the southern shore spill over to our own shores. Terrorism finds a new avenue to reach Europe. Trafficking in human beings has destabilizing effects on the countries of destination and often results in tragedies at sea that we can no longer accept," Mr. Monti added, stressing Italy's full support for UN-Arab League (AL) Lakhdar Brahimi's ongoing and "nearly impossible" mission as peace envoy for Syria.
In November 2012, former Foreign Minister Giulio Terzi underlined the importance of the "greater Mediterranean" for Italy – overall trade reached EUR 82 bn in 2011 – and explained, for instance, that the elections in Egypt, which led to the installation of President Mohamed Morsi in July 2012 (…) paved the way for completion of the democratic transition. Today, after Mr. Morsi has been toppled by the Military on July 3, and that in the meantime the security situation has dramatically worsened in Libya, Tunisia, Iraq and Syria, the latest Foreign Minister of Italy, Mrs Emma Bonino – appointed on April 28 – explained that the "Arab Spring" label now appears "flawed."
In 2011, the Arab world was crying out for change, change for the better, Mrs. Bonino explained, and now, the Arab struggle for such a change continues. Firstly, the Minister said, the winners of post-Arab Spring elections failed to "realize that winning an election does not give a leader authorization to seize all state power and disregard minorities (…) here lies the gulf between formal and substantial democracy." Secondly, Mrs Bonino added, the "Arab Spring" label, however evocative to western ears, never made sense to the Arabs themselves.
As a result, Mrs. Bonino underlined, "it dearly pigeonholed their revolutions into European categories, mentally. Not only that: it was patronizing and through naive imagery it conveyed the notion of a smooth, linear and almost automatic transition to democracy, after long winters of authoritarian rule." Actually, the reality has been completely different. Mrs. Bonino asked "what if democracy change produces partial democracies?" and concluded that a "one size-fits-all-policy cannot produce positive results, hence the need for a common strategy that favors case-by-case decision. Summing up, there is not one "Arab Spring" but multiple "Arab Springs".
Although the change that started in 2011 is irreversible, the Italian Minister pointed out, the EU and the West in general must now understand that long-term stability will demand a delicate balance between Islamists' "illiberal democracy" and the "lingering nostalgia of liberals for the secular role of the army." That's why, like the latest trips to Egypt of EU High Representative for Foreign Policy Catherine Ashton showed, one could not realistically imagine a democratic future for Egypt without including the Muslim Brotherhood into the political process.
On the one hand, Islamists must understand that winning an election is no blank cheque, and on the other hand, secularists must understand that keeping Islamists at bay will prevent Egypt from achieving a better future.
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