Egypt, Italy to ink major arms deal despite human rights concerns

Redazione – Fonte: © Al Monitor
14 giugno 2020

It seems the Italian government has temporarily backed away from a military deal with Egypt. Foreign Minister Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio said on June 10 that his country had not yet approved it, adding that the government is still weighing political considerations and analyzing the deal.

Italy’s news agency ANSA had reported June 8 that the Italian government approved the sale of two FREMM frigates to Egypt and that the top management of the Italian Fincantieri marine industries company was involved in the sale.Rumors about the approval of the deal came after after a phone call between Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte on June 7, during which they discussed bilateral relations at the commercial, military and energy levels.

According to a statement from the Egyptian presidency, Conte stressed his country’s readiness to boost cooperation with Egypt in various fields.

Giorgio Beretta, an analyst specializing in arms deals at the Permanent Observatory on Small Arms in Italy, told Al-Monitor via email that the two frigates are part of a much larger military deal worth more than nine billion euros (about $10.2 billion). This deal, according to Beretta, is currently under discussion and would be one of the largest sales for Italy since World War II.

The head of Fincantieri, Giuseppe Bono, revealed on Feb. 18 that negotiations were ongoing to reach a deal on the sale of two FREMM frigates valued at 1.2 billion euros (about $1.3 billion).

Speaking June 10 before a parliamentary session, Maio linked the approval of the deal with Egypt to the progress achieved so far in the ongoing investigation into the death of Regeni.

Relations between Egypt and Italy were severely affected by the murder of Italian doctoral student Giulio Regeni, whose mutilated body was found in February 2016 on a road on the outskirts of Cairo.