Everything is ready for the normalization of diplomatic relations between Italy and Egypt.
On Sept. 14, while the new Egyptian Ambassador Hisham Badr will take his place in the Roman residence, our Giampaolo Cantini will reopen the windows of the beautiful Garden City building, closed for the last 17 months. This residence is located in the historic Cairo district overlooking the eastern shore of the Nile at the same level of Dokki, the neighborhood where Giulio Regeni lived and disappeared on Jan. 25, 2016.
The reason is simple. Minister Angelino Alfano explained it well before the Foreign Affairs Committees of the House and the Senate, which were summoned to listen to the reasons for the government’s action during the August break: “There are so many partnerships between Italy and Egypt that it would be counterproductive to collapse or eliminate them; Egypt is an inalienable partner of Italy just as Italy is an inescapable partner of Egypt.” Period.
In the meantime, however, the leader of the Farnesina assured, “Giulio will not be forgotten, and to prevent his descent into oblivion, we would like to name the Italian-Egyptian university after him. This institution is a project that I hope will find new life with the return of the ambassador,” as well as an auditorium and other chattels.
And to those who protest the decision — like Amnesty International Italy, CILD, Antigone, Sinistra Italiana, Articolo Uno-Mdp or the Regeni family itself — there is the enlightening response of centrist Pier Ferdinando Casini who chairs the Foreign Commission at Palazzo Madama: “To withhold the appointment of the ambassador in Egypt in contrast with the investigation on the Regeni case is a disgraceful speculation that must be sent back to the sender,” he says. He actually points the finger against the Renzi government that in April 2016 recalled Ambassador Maurizio Massari for this exact reason.
On the other hand, since then, nothing has changed, as Minister Alfano himself reports: “We will continue to support the Prosecutor’s Office of Rome in the search for truth about Giulio Regeni’s death. When I met my Egyptian counterpart last March, I asked very clearly that the documentation requested on the Regeni case should be sent as soon as possible.” There were therefore no “new developments in the cooperation between the investigating bodies” of the two countries, as the Italian Government announced on Aug. 14 last year. Just another request reiterated by Rome.
With the hope of getting the Cambridge University to collaborate further in the investigation, since Regeni was carrying out their research work. To this end, Ambassador Cantini — who knows even less about the Al Sisi regime and the Regeni case than his predecessor Massari — is entrusted with the difficult task of establishing “a relationship with the British colleague in the Egyptian capital.”
The undersecretary of the Egyptian parliamentary commission for foreign affairs Tarek el Kholi, is encouraging and assures to the Agenzia Nova: “The perpetrators of the murder will be pursued, irrespective of their position.” The Egyptian Representative speaks of “systematic sabotage of bilateral relations” in perfect harmony with his counterpart at Montecitorio Fabrizio Cicchitto who accuses the U.S. secret services and “the oil companies in competition with ENI” of inspiring the complaint about the involvement of the Italian government published by The New York Times two weeks ago.
Even Senate President Piero Grasso expresses his satisfaction with the words with which Alfano has justified the government’s decision. But the vice president of the commission, the SI Representative Erasmo Palazzotto defined as “embarrassing” and “shameful” the Minister’s statements.
Human Rights associations criticized the measure and Amnesty recalled: “When the Italian ambassador was recalled from Cairo a year and a half ago, he was not, as Alfano stated, as a pressure tactic for obtaining greater judicial cooperation, a goal that has not been achieved. The goal was to get the truth about Giulio Regeni’s murder.” From which we are still far away.
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