CIA gave Kosovo terrorists weapons - Italian politician
BBC Monitoring Europe (Political) - February 26, 2008 Tuesday

Text of report by Italian popular privately-owned centre-right newspaper Corriere della Sera, on 24 February

[Interview with Italian Liberal Democrats leader Lamberto Dini, outgoing Senate deputy speaker and Foreign Affairs Committee chairman, former prime and foreign minister, by Maurizio Caprara in Rome; date not given: "'Kosovo Is Illegal, Just Like the War in 1999'" - first paragraph is Corriere della Sera introduction]

Rome - "Europe is in breach of international law," said Lamberto Dini, without beating about the bush and without hesitation. Dini is the chairman of the [Italian] Senate Foreign Affairs Committee that has come to the end of the line in this curtailed legislative term; he is also a former incumbent in the Farnesina [Italian Foreign Ministry] on behalf of the centre-left, and today he is an ally of the centre-right. He is not at all happy with Italy's recognition of the independent state of Kosovo. "Was it really necessary to act so rapidly, with such haste?," he asked, adding: "In some ways international law was breached by NATO with its military operation back in 1999."

[Caprara] But were you not the foreign minister of a government that took part in the NATO air strikes against Serbia back in 1999?

[Dini] Yes, but we had a "responsibility to protect" [previous three words in English in original], or what is translated as "humanitarian interference." There had been a carnage in Kosovo, a genocide.

[Caprara] What about today?

[Dini] Serbia has international law on its side. That means respecting the principle of a country's territorial inviolability. That principle has been set aside and no one can foretell the consequences that that will have. Writing in Corriere della Sera, [columnist] Franco Venturini called it "a mistake that could no longer be postponed" [see referent item]. In my view, it is a mistake, and it might have been possible to postpone it. UN Resolution 1244, to which also Russia has subscribed, provides for broad autonomy for Kosovo, but not for its independence.

[Caprara] Foreign Minister Massimo D'Alema and also AN [National Alliance] Chairman Gianfranco Fini [former foreign minister] argue that if Italy had failed to recognize Kosovo, it would have had to withdraw the 2,600 troops that it has in the former Serbian province.

[Dini] That is probably true if there had been a statement of non-recognition. But it does not mean that immediate recognition was necessary. Spain has 1,650 troops in Kosovo and it states that it does not recognize Kosovo's independence, yet it is not announcing any withdrawal.

[Caprara] In your view, what should the Italian Government have done?

[Dini] If Italy wanted to offer a great gesture of friendship, it could have avoided being among the first to recognize Kosovo.

[Caprara] It may be a subtle nuance, but the Prodi government, with the centre-right's backing, waited until the United States and France had recognized Kosovo first.

[Dini] The Serbian authorities were asking for something different: Before recognition, it would have been considered an act of friendship to allow about 20 countries to proceed. Belgrade's ambassador was received by D'Alema, by [Democratic Party (PD) member] Umberto Ranieri who chairs the Chamber of Deputies Foreign Affairs Committee, and by myself.

[Caprara] Is it clear to you exactly who has been pushing for Kosovo's independence?

[Dini] The US Administration. I would like to remind people, having had first-hand experience, that the United States made up its mind to push in the direction of independence, or was inclined to do so, as long ago as at the Rambouillet conference back in February 1999; this, for geopolitical and strategic considerations. Indeed, as [former Italian Communist Party (PCI) member] Armando Cossutta pointed out, it now seems as though the United States is getting set to build a large military base in Kosovo.

[Caprara] Some people are bound to say: This is the Dini who was implicated in the Telekom Serbija scandal.

[Dini] Those who set me up in that story should be ashamed of themselves. Some people are still waiting to be tried for slander [in that connection].

[Caprara] Could the Italian Government have stood up to the US Administration in a head-on clash?

[Dini] In connection with things like this, one does not take orders. Large countries like Italy can make political assessments. We are not Kosovo. By the way, did you know that fully 90 per cent of the heroin that hits our shores comes from there? It is to be hoped that the multinational force is not there to protect the smuggling and drug trafficking that have been taking place to date under Prime Minister Hashim Thaci, a man who could have been deferred to the Hague tribunal [on war crimes in the former Yugoslavia]. It was the CIA that provided the Kosovo terrorists and rebels with arms - that is a fact.

[Caprara] As Russia becomes increasingly less amenable towards various countries located to the west of it - one has but to look at the way it uses the gas supply tool with Ukraine - does it really make no sense to avoid pandering to a country with such close links to Moscow as Serbia has?

[Dini] The whole issue has unquestionably been a matter of a clash between the two powers. But Russia played a crucial role in bringing the conflict to a close back in 1999. If we look at Vladimir Putin's Russia, the time when the West could humiliate it is over. Russia is no longer prepared to be humiliated.

Source: Corriere della Sera, Milan, in Italian 24 Feb 08
Posted for Fair Use only.