Vice president of the Italian senate Maurizio Gasparri criticised the senate’s decision to halt the supply of F-16 fighters to Egypt, describing the decision as “dangerous and irresponsible”, according to the Italian AKI news agency on Friday.
“The international community needs to know that the government of Matteo Renzi chose to lower the caution level in counter terrorism,” said Gasparri. “The decision not to send Egypt, which is fighting Islamic State, F-16 fighter jets is dangerous.”
Gasparri, who is a member of the Forza Italia party, said Italy has the right to ask about the murder of Giulio Regeni, pointing out that Italy has already taken diplomatic measures towards Egypt. “But choosing not to supply them with F-16s is mysterious… It is good to know that the [Italian] government is obstructing the fight against terrorism.”
Gasparri said he is committed to meeting all the diplomatic missions in Rome to inform them about what happened in the senate.
The Italian senate voted Wednesday to stop the supply of F-16 fighter jets to Egypt as the first “pressure signal” of repercussions following the murder of Regeni, Italian news agency ANSA reported.
The “Regeni amendment” was reportedly adopted following 159 votes in its favour. The measure to halt Italy’s supply of fighter jets and parts to Egypt will now go to the house, ANSA added. Italian politician Gian Carlo Sangalli was quoted saying: “It is not a hostile act [against Cairo] but [rather] our country’s title and our right to continue to keep pressure on public opinion and even Egypt.”
The Egyptian Foreign Ministry on Thursday expressed concern over the vote, which was closely related to the Regeni case, and not “convenient to the cooperation between the two countries’ investigation into the matter since the beginning, as well as to Egyptian-Italian relations”.
The ministry added: “Egypt will closely follow up with developments in Italy to make the right decision regarding the management of those relations, which it hopes will continue on good terms.”
Italian foreign minister Paolo Gentiloni previously stated that Italy will continue inquiring into the Italian researcher’s murder. “If anyone thinks that we will stop demanding the truth about Regeni’s murder as time goes on, they are wrong,” he said in April.
Regeni went missing on 25 January and his battered body was found over a week later on the Cairo-Alexandria Desert Road.
Relations between Egypt and Italy have become tense since his death, with Rome recalling ambassador to Egypt Maurizio Massari over the case.
Massari was replaced by Giampaolo Cantini last month.
Gentiloni said on Thursday that Cantini will stay in Italy for the time being in order to continue investigations on the Regeni case.
“The government recalled the ambassador two months ago, and this decision has not changed,” Gentiloni said during a visit to Bosnia according to reports made by Italian state run news agency, ANSA.
“It’s a very serious initiative that I don’t think has a precedent. For the moment we are sticking with this decision,” he added.