“Minister Bonino, what has to happen in Egypt in order to halt the export of weapons from Italy?” That sums up a parliamentary question asked by OPAL, an association monitoring weapons production in Italy and Italian security policies. The small association, linked with a Christian institution, points out the inconsistency between Emma Bonino’s declaration of sadness about events in Egypt and her inactivity as Minister of Foreign Affairs (unusual for a long-established politician of the Radical party which is strongly linked to anti-militarism and anti-prohibitionism and whose policies are generally libertarian).
The request is clear: stop arms exports to Egypt immediately. That seems easy until one realizes that Italy ranks 7th in the list of world weapons suppliers and is one of the five biggest exporters of arms to Egypt. These arms include Beretta’s assault rifles and grenade launchers, Fiocchi’s munitions, Simmel’s anti-tank cluster bombs and Iveco’s armoured vehicles. Exports (authorised by the Minister for Foreign Affairs) continue to increase: weapons worth 10m euros in 2010, 14m euros in 2011, 28m euros in 2012 (under the Monti government) and, in the first quarter of 2013, arms exports worth 2.6m euros (recorded by Istat, Italy’s national statistics institute). These weapons may be the ones that killed the anti-Mubarak demonstrators.
OPAL has shown how the export of munitions from Fiocchi Munizioni, based in Lecco, continued during the 2011 mass demonstrations in Egypt to the tune of more than 41,000 euros (around 100,000 rounds).
In addition, Fiocchi Munizioni has inconsistent paperwork, according to OPAL. Over the past ten years exports have not been reported to the Relazione del Presidente del Consiglio al Parlamento (a government body concerned with arms export). The appropriate authorizations from the Finance and Foreign Ministers (for payments) are present but custom duties are missing. At present, it is not possible to say whether the ammunition was intended for private or military use.