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Kuna - April 29, 2010


by Mehdi Al-Nemer


Italian leaders and officials are looking forward to the meetings and exchanges with the Amir of Kuwait during his upcoming visit, as he is known as a prudent and experienced leader with foresight on both local and on regional and international issues, a top Italian parliamentarian told KUNA Wednesday.
Vice-Chairman of the Italian Senate Emma Bonino said His Highness the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah's visit is thus of great importance to bilateral relations. Other visits had paved the way for this one, topped by a visit by His Highness the Kuwaiti Prime Minister Sheikh Nasser Al-Mohammad Al-Ahmad.
The official noted, in an exclusive interview, that "the political as well as economic importance and weight of bilateral relations is apparent to all, and I myself kept up with developments and progress in Kuwait, since the 1990 aggression and 1991 liberation war, later as minister of commerce, and particularly kept an eye for women political rights and issues as a civil rights activist." The parliamentarian recalled "a key role" by the Amir in women attaining right of vote. She particularly recalled "two key constitutional court rulings on women's right of travel and movement and to issue passports and on women MPs' right to choose attire". She also recalled choosing a woman as member of the board of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry as an "indicative development." Known for a particular interest in Arab issues and developments in the Arab region, the activist expressed hope to see Kuwaiti women as judges soon.
As Italy celebrates 50 years of women in judiciary posts next month, the former EU commissioner expressed disappointment that elected local councils in some Italian regions have no women members, which she strictly considered "a step back." However, she noted "the atmosphere is more optimistic in Kuwait and the Arab region in this regard." The official expressed her view that no nation can achieve balanced development without realizing and investing in the potential of women, who account for half if not more of the general population. She stressed "Italy therefore should established 'preferential relations' with nations of great potential such as Kuwait, where there is a positive economic and financial situation and sizable liquidity, which are important indices." Kuwait, she pointed out, meanwhile admirably plays to its forte and assumes leadership and pioneering roles in the region, with the Kuwait Economic Summit one of many examples.
On trade Kuwaiti-Italian trade exchange, Bonino remarked the trade dropped to some 830 million Euro, meaning it was less affected than that between other nations due to the global financial crisis.
Again on the Kuwaiti economic role and economic role, the official expected economic aspects would be ever in the focus of the public opinion during the visit. It is hoped, she went on, that the visit would yield stronger economic, industrial, and investment partnership that overcomes current impediments in both states.
On field for cooperation, she listed advanced medical care in Italy, research centers, prospering small businesses and enterprises, and many more investment opportunities for Kuwait Investment Authority and individual Kuwaiti investors. This is in addition to a strong tourism sector, therapeutic tourism, conferences and event-related tourism, and spa facilities.
On problems impeding speedy development and fruition of investments, she mentioned "bureaucracy, complex official and judicial processes, lengthy and protracted legal and arbitration procedures, and unreliability of current regulations" as issues Italy should work hard on to attract more Kuwaiti, and other, investments.
On the EU-Gulf Cooperation Council Free Trade talks which lasted 18 years to date, the former EU commissioner said that the Amir's talks would most probably give due attention to this issue and iron out some of the rigidity on the part of either side.
"It is unacceptable at such an age of economic blocs and integration for the two blocs to accept the current stalemate and waste immense potential," she stressed. The geographical proximity would also lend great support to, as well as show the importance of, efforts to bring the two regions into a stronger partnership, she said.
As Kuwait chairs the GCC and with Italy representing Europe, now that the new European Commission has been formed, the leaders should work on accelerating the talks, she stressed.
In addition to His Highness' great expertise and many years in the political forefront in the Gulf and Arab region, the information from an immediate source and one which understands in full the particulars of the region would render the views and remarks of Sheikh Sabah of extreme interest to the Italian leadership, Bonino said.
"This great expertise and His Highness' renowned status as first rate statesman would undoubtedly help address many of the current international issues and concerns, and President Giorgio Napolitano and Premier Silvio Berlusconi are sure to be most interested to hear what His Highness has to say on such matters."

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