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Egypt, Syria and Yemen: three areas of crisis - Terzi calls for democratic transition, without violence

By Italy - Ministry of Foreign Affairs
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ROME, Italy, November 24, 2011/African Press Organization (APO)/ -- Egypt, Syria and Yemen continue to hold the attention of the international community. Three areas of crisis where the transition to democracy, punctuated by violence and repression, is struggling to take concrete shape.

Egypt is approaching the elections of 28 November 2011 in a climate of clashes and growing tension. The revolts in Syria could have repercussions throughout the Middle East, while the Assad regime's growing international isolation is causing the conditions of the civilian population to deteriorate further still.

The agreement in Yemen signed by President Ali Abdallah Saleh which envisages his departure from power and new presidential elections, albeit not in the immediate future, could open the way to democracy in that country too. Italy's position – of following a bilateral and multilateral approach – has enabled our country to play a leading role in helping provide concrete responses to the demands arising as a result of the “Arab Spring”.

“Egypt's road to democracy must continue with full respect for legality and non-violence”, said Minister Giulio Terzi. The Minister underscored that the Egyptian army has played “a very positive part in the first stage” of the Egyptian revolution, with the desire “to act as a guarantee on the road leading to a Constitution for the country”.

For Yemen, an agreement has gradually been reached for the current President, Saleh, to leave power. Terzi expressed the hope that the road followed by the democratic transition would lead to the end of the violence and repression and to a new system based on participation and consensus.

As Minister Terzi stated, “Italy welcomes the news of the agreement on the political transition in Yemen signed yesterday, 23 November, in Riyadh by President Saleh and the opposition. The agreement now needs to be implemented in full and all violence must cease”. The Minister hopes that “President Saleh will perform the envisaged transfer of powers without further hesitation, thus allowing the Yemeni people to decide freely on their future”. Italy, concluded Terzi, “confirms its firm commitment to work towards the stabilisation of Yemen, not least in view of the country's key role and position in the region”.

The agreement was sponsored by the six countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council (Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, United Arab Emirates, Oman, Qatar and Bahrain). It was signed by President Saleh in the presence of Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah during a ceremony broadcast on live television. Under the plan, which Saleh had rejected three times since April 2011, he will remain in position as honorary president for three months, with real powers being transferred to his deputy, Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi. The latter should then form a government of unity with the opposition and call new presidential elections.

The Minister's stand on Egypt follows that expressed by Italy through Ambassador Cesare Maria Ragaglini, our permanent representative at the United Nations, on the General Assembly's resolution condemning the violence against civilians by the Assad regime in Syria. The UN has asked Damascus to implement the Arab League's Action Plan without further delay.

“We are pleased indeed to see this resolution adopted. Its importance goes well beyond simply condemning the situation in Syria, given the decisive role played by the Arab countries in encouraging this outcome”, said Ambassador Ragaglini. “The resolution breaks the UN's long silence on events in the country”, continued Ragaglini, “and attests to the growing isolation of the government in Damascus”.

The Ambassador also underscored that “Italy hopes, in the face of the unequivocal and unanimous messages being voiced by the international community, that the brutal repression by the regime will finally come to an end. We hope too that the legitimate demands of the civilian population will finally be heard”.

The Foreign Ministry spokesperson, Maurizio Massari, also expressed Italy's satisfaction over the UN resolution. He pointed out that the resolution was also approved by a “large number of Arab countries” and that the international community “must now increase the pressure on Assad's regime to bring an end to the violence and hasten the democratic transition”.