Italian envoy for consensual solution on marines row
New Delhi, Mar. 13 : Against the backdrop of mounting pressure from the Indian Government to send back the two marines to face trial for shooting a pair of fishermen off the Kochi coast, Italian Ambassador to India Daniele Mancini on Wednesday said Rome is not an enemy of New Delhi, and added that this case should be solved by consensual means.
"We are a friendly government to the Government of India. We are not an enemy. We want to work with the Indian Government in all possible manners. And, we have been consistent since day one. It is for us, I mean the supremacy of an international law, to be reassessed," Mancini told media on the sidelines of an event here.
" In these very months, and in the last few weeks, and even in the last few days, we tried and we put forward several proposals to the Indian authorities to solve this case by consensual means. This is what we still want to be doing," he added.
The Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh, today asserted there will be consequences if the Italian Government does not respect its commitment and return the two marines to India.
Dr. Singh told the Parliament that there can be no two opinions about the actions that have been taken by the Italian government on the matter raised by the members.
"Our government has already made it clear that these actions of the Government of Italy are not acceptable. They violate every rule of diplomatic discourse and call into question solemn commitments given by accredited representatives of a sovereign government to our Supreme Court," said Dr. Singh.
"This cannot, by any standards, be in the interests of any bilateral relationship that has to function on the basis of trust," he added.
Dr. Singh urged the Italian Government to send back two marines facing trail in the Indian fishermen killing case.
"Our government has therefore insisted that the Italian authorities respect the undertakings they have given to the honourable Supreme Court and return the two accused persons to stand trial in India. If they do not keep their word there will be consequences for our relations with Italy," said Dr. Singh.
"I would also urge all members of the House to treat this matter with the seriousness that it deserves, acting and speaking together as the Government moves forward on this issue," he added.
The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) earlier on Tuesday summoned the Italian envoy over Rome's refusal to send back two marines charged with the killing two Indian fishermen, and made it clear that this move is unacceptable.
Foreign Secretary Ranjan Mathai, who summoned the Italian Ambassador to his office at the South Block here, said the latter has been conveyed the Indian Government's position in this regard.
"We summoned the Ambassador of Italy. I summoned him to my office and basically what I told him is that the contents of note, which was given to us conveying the position of the Government of Italy regarding the two marines is not acceptable to us," he told media here.
Mathai said Italy is obliged under the terms of the assurance given to the Supreme Court that the two marines return in the time frame.
"There was an offer of discussions, which had been made in a note from the Italians on the 6th of March; that is a separate issue from the assurance, which was given to our Supreme Court on the basis of which the Supreme Court had allowed the two marines to go back to Italy for a short period of time," said Mathai.
"As far as we are concerned, Italy is obliged under the terms of that assurance to ensure that the two marines return in the time frame given by the Supreme Court. Basically, that is the position I took in the meeting, which I had when I summoned the Ambassador of Italy a little while ago," he added.
When asked to comment on the response of the Italian envoy, Mathai said the former has taken note of New Delhi's position and would convey it to Rome.
"He simply took note of the position conveyed to him that the message which we had received from his embassy was not acceptable. And he said he would convey that to his authorities, to his government in Rome," he said.
This move of the MEA came after Italian Foreign Ministry made it clear that the marines accused of killing two Indian fishermen would not return to India when their court-allowed leave ends this month.
The two Italian marines, Salvatore Latorre and Massimiliano Girone, charged with homicide for killing two fishermen off the Kerala coast in February 2012 after mistaking them for pirates, were permitted by the Supreme Court to go to Italy for four weeks to vote in last month's election.
The two were allowed to go home during Christmas. They returned to India on the expiry of their leave.