Parliament’s foreign affairs undersecretary: Italian ambassador to return to Egypt before September
Courtesy: Corriere della Sera

The Italian ambassador to Egypt will return to Cairo before September, Nicola Latorre, head of the Italian Senate’s defense commission, has told Egypt’s Parliament Speaker Ali Abdel Aal, according to Egyptian MP Tarek Radwan, head of the Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee.

According to Radwan, discussions took place at a meeting on Monday between both Latorre and Abdel Aal at the headquarters of the Egyptian Parliament. He stated that the meeting dealt with the latest developments in the case of Italian researcher Giulio Regeni’s death, whose body was found with signs of torture on the February 2, 2016 after disappearing on the fifth anniversary of the January revolution, in addition to talking about resuming Egyptian-Italian relations.

Latorre started a two-day visit to Egypt on Monday, during which he met with President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, and Abdel Aal, as well as Grand Sheikh of Al-Azhar Ahmed al-Tayyeb.

The discussion regarding a resumption in formal relations came after Italy confirmed the seriousness of the Egyptian investigative bodies’ seriousness in identifying Regeni’s killer, according to Radwan.

The Italian Foreign Ministry announced, in April 2016, that it had recalled its ambassador in Cairo, Maurizio Massari, to Rome for consultation — a step that came two days after an Egyptian security delegation, headed by the assistant public prosecutor, arrived in Italy with the aim of sharing all the information they had regarding investigations into Regeni’s death. In May 2016, the head of the Italian government, former Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, announced the appointment of Giampaolo Cantini, a non-resident ambassador diplomat in Egypt.

In the statement of the appointment of the new ambassador, Renzi stated: “Certainly, there is a symbolic value to the absence of an ambassador from Cairo. We are looking forward to the public prosecutor’s [heading the investigation in the murder of Giulio Regeni] statements in the case. However, we don’t want one day to pass without having an ambassador in Cairo. For this reason, we appoint Giampaolo Cantini as an ambassador in Cairo; he has a lot of expertise in North Africa.”

In June 2016, the Italian Senate voted on a legal amendment to halt the supply of F16 military planes to Egypt. In December 2016, the Public prosecutor visited Rome and presented “a complete in-depth file of the phone record data in the areas where Regeni disappeared on the 25th of January and until his body was found on the third of February,” according to reports by the Italian press. The visit also witnessed the first formal acknowledgment by Egypt of their investigations into Regeni before his disappearance, as well as subjecting him to surveillance by security services.

MP Yehia Kedwani, the undersecretary of the Parliament’s Defense and National Security committee, said that Latorre’s visit on Monday focused on Egyptian and Italian common interests, especially regarding measures counter irregular migration and terrorism.

Kedwani also told Mada Masr that Italy is in dire need of Egypt’s help, due to an awareness that it cannot prevent terrorists fleeing Syria and Iraq from reaching Italian shores through the Libyan coast by itself. This fact has prompted Italy to seek common ground with Egypt, especially after it was assured of the public prosecutor’s determination to find Regeni’s killer. He also spoke of the presence of international forces that want to ruin relations between Egypt and Italy.

Kedwani noted that Italy did not sacrifice its close relationship with Egypt, and considered the decision of the Italian senate to halt the export of F16 plans to Egypt ineffective in reality, for Egypt depends on importing these supplies from the US and not from Italy primarily.

During his Tuesday meeting with the Italian delegation, Sisi stated that Egypt is committed to uncovering the circumstances of Regeni’s death, clarifying the truth and bringing the perpetrators to justice.