MP Piera Aiello, in the background a frame of the Tigray video published by Panorama (Ansa).

Parliamentary Question on the Italy-Ethiopia military agreement

MP Piera Aiello asks ministers Lorenzo Guerini and Luigi Di Maio about the relations with Addis Ababa government, accused of massacres and mass rapes.

While Washington prepares new sanctions against Ethiopia, which could be imposed as early as the end of the month, the first questions on the relations with Addis Ababa are being asked in Rome's Parliament. On October 6, MP Piera Aiello submitted a Parliamentary question for written answer to Lorenzo Guerini and Luigi Di Maio.

The Sicilian witness of justice, elected with 5 Stars Movement and now in the Mixed Group, asked uncomfortable questions to the Ministers of Defense and Foreign Affairs, regarding Italian-Ethiopian relations. Essentially, Aiello asked «whether the agreement has been implemented by supplying weapons to the Ethiopian army», «whether they intend to openly condemn the actions of human rights violations and crimes against humanity perpetrated by the Ethiopian army and their allies in Tigray» and «whether they intend to give a clear political signal, by suspending the validity of the agreement on the cooperation in the field of Defense between Italy and Ethiopia».

The anti-Mafia lawmaker with a tragic personal past, who was consecrated in 2019 by BBC as «one of the 100 most influential women in the world», dared to use the word genocide. In her question, she stated: «Since November 2020, In Tigray (Ethiopia) there has been a war that has the connotations of genocide», «in which the Tigrayan community and Eritrean refugees are subjected to human rights violations of all kinds».

Indeed, the military agreement 20G00107... It was Panorama.it that informed the public about this deal. Stipulated between the Italian and the Ethiopian Ministries of Defense, the accord was signed on the 10th of April 2019, by thenMinister Elisabetta Trenta. A month ago, Panorama.it was informed of the existence of the military agreement by the Young Italian-Tigrayans (Giovani Tigrini Italiani), a group of Italians of Tigrayan origin that fights to inform public opinion of the humanitarian catastrophe that is folding in the Ethiopian region. After making the necessary checks, Panorama.it published an article denouncing the situation on September 25.

The article about the Italy-Ethiopia military agreement.

The headline was: «Italian-Tigrayans: "Financing and military agreement between Rome and Addis Ababa"», the piece explains that the agreement came into force on August 5, 2020, on the eve of the outbreak of war. The agreement includes providing military education and training to the Ethiopian army, supporting commercial activities related to defence products and the procurement of military equipment. The article drew several reactions. One of them was Aiello's Parliamentary question. «There is no doubt: without Panorama.it, our complaint would not have had this resonance. Which is sad, given the seriousness of the genocide» observed the Young Italian Tigrayans, who in order to protect their relatives in Ethiopia prefer not to appear with name and surname.

Piera Aiello's question takes its cue from the proposal launched by former Defense minister Elisabetta Trenta, who asks for the suspension of the validity of the agreement she signed over two years ago. Three days after the publication of Panorama.it article, on September 28, Elisabetta Trenta wrote an appeal on Formiche.net: «War in Ethiopia, we cannot stand by and watch».

The article began with an indirect admission of guilt. «I personally signed a collaboration agreement in the defense sector with the then Ethiopian defense minister, Aisha Mohammed Musa» wrote former minister Trenta. «Of course, I would not have signed it, if I had had even the slightest doubt about what happened instead. At that moment, however, we did not have any indicators that could foreshadow the future».

The appeal ended with the request for the suspension of the agreement and with an indirect blow to her successor Lorenzo Guerini: «Significant political gestures are also needed, such as, for example, suspending that agreement of collaboration in the defense sector that I signed. And that was later made executive when we already began to glimpse the path that the country was taking».

The reactions aroused by the complaints of Panorama.it do not stop here. Immediately after the publication of the article on the military agreement, the Young Italian-Tigrayans were contacted by Carlo Leoni, former vice-president of the Chamber of Deputies and now right-hand man of MP Laura Boldrini, and met him. «After expressing his surprise at the change of course of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed» they explain, «Leoni announced that there will soon be a stance against mass rapes in Tigray. And he added that Amnesty Italy is also taking action on the issue».

Meanwhile, on October 8, Deputy Foreign Minister Marina Sereni met with Eritrean Foreign Minister Osman Saleh Mohammed. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs posted the photo of the two politicians on Twitter and with extreme detachment commented: «Discussed prospects for bilateral relations, as part of Italy's ongoing commitment to the Horn of Africa region». Horrified, the Young Italian-Tigrayans observe: «Marina Sereni's behavior is increasingly astounding. After initially blaming Tigrayans for the start of hostilities, she now maintains cordial relations and discusses bilateral agreements with the genocidal Eritrean administration. Nonchalantly glossing over the devastation, mass rapes and massacres committed by Eritrean troops in Tigray...».

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