Foreign Minister Paolo Gentiloni said more must be done to protect Christians under threat around the world, chastising Europe for its inadequate response in recent years.
“We were witness to this European silence 20 years ago, when the troops led by Ratko Mladic massacred 8,000 Bosnian Muslims in Srebrenica,” he was quoted in Rai News as saying.
Mladic, a Bosnian Serb army leader, is currently on trial for war crimes and crimes against humanity at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia.
The killing of thousands of civilians in July 1995 led to widespread condemnation of inaction by Europe and the international community.
Gentiloni said ensuring the safety of Christian minorities must now be addressed, “because it concerns our identity and our roots.”
Christians have recently been targeted in countries including Libya and Nigeria, where the foreign minister said Italy could come to play a role.
“In the future, the opportunity to contribute to the conflict of terrorism in Libya could be considered, or a phenomenon such as Boko Haram in Nigeria, for example,” he said.
But religious groups must also be protected at home, Gentiloni said. He proposed protecting places of worship in Italy, including both Christian churches and other sites.
“I think of Italian Jews, of their communities, that could be seen as targets,” he said.
The foreign minister also reflected on Israel’s opposition to a nuclear deal signed last week with Iran, which Israeli leader Benjamin Netanyahu said was a threat to the Jewish country.
“I understand Israeli concerns, but I exclude that Netanyahu could have nostalgia for (the former Iranian president, Mahmoud) Ahmadinejad. If the agreement is definitively settled in June, I am certain that it will stabilize Iran and favour its development in a direction which is less dangerous for Israel,” Gentiloni said.