The visit by the Italian Foreign Minister Giulio Terzi to India has changed the complexion of the India-Italy standoff over the trial of the Italian Marines who killed two Indian fishermen on Feb 15. External Affairs Minister S.M.Krishna’s remarks after the talks with Terzi in Delhi earlier today are noticeably conciliatory — especially his keenness to “clear the air” and his accent on the “will and commitment to strengthen our partnership.”
All’s well that ends well. However, Italians have not substantially budged from their position that the crime took place in international waters and the Marines should be tried in Rome. Italy sees the Indian action in detaining the Marines as coercive and unilateral. So far, the only ‘concession’ on their part is their expression of ‘condolences and sorrow’ over the loss of Indian lives.
Terzi is travelling to Kochi
to convey to the ‘valiant’ Italian Marines under detention the ’solidarity’ from the highest level of Italian leadership. Part of the act is for domestic consumption in Italy, but the other part underscores Rome’s firm resolve to see the issue through to its end.
So, what is the endgame? EAM’s focus is on getting this issue out of the way so that India-Italy partnership runs its course. He spoke of “very fruitful discussions”. He took pains to stress that the bilateral partnership is much, much bigger than the sum total of the current fracas. Terzi concurs and insists that Rome is willing to cooperate with Delhi but to “establish the truth”
of the incident on Feb 15.
Unsurprisingly, there is a world of difference between the projection of the state of play locally in Kerala and what Delhi seems to have in mind. Clearly, Defence Minister A.K. Antony has taken a tough stance
, while on a visit to Kerala. But that was on Monday, the day before Krishna met Terzi in Delhi.
It is entirely possible that all three — Krishna, Terzi and Antony — are equally right. Such things can happen in the trapeze act of international diplomacy. What is most pertinent is the big question
posed by the Kerala High Court today: Why not an out of court settlement?
Posted in Diplomacy, Politics.
– February 28, 2012