We speak with Grazia Francescato, former president of the Italian Green Party and spokesperson for the European Green Party Federation about the antiwar movement, the European Parliament and much more. [includes rush transcript]
Italy is a close ally of the Bush administration and is a member of the so-called "coalition of the wiling" in Iraq. Prime minister Silvio Berlusconi sent some 3,000 Italian troops to Iraq where they remain deployed.
But Italy’s participation in the invasion and occupation of Baghdad comes amidst a massive antiwar movement throughout the country. In the run-up to the invasion, up to 88% of Italians were opposed to military intervention and millions took to the streets in protest in an unprecedented display of unity against war.
At times, the Italian government has responded harshly to the large-scale popular participation in the anti-war, anti-globalization movement. In July 2001, peaceful demonstrations against the G8 summit in Genoa were met with police brutality. Italian police shot and killed 23-year-old protester Carlo Giuliani. The independent media center was raided leaving more than 60 people hospitalized. A total of 500 people were injured.
At the government level in Italy, the progressive Green Party is one of the leading antiwar voices in parliament. Earlier this year, Green parties from countries across the continent joined forces to found the European Green Party. Working on a common platform, Greens are now looking to increase their influence in the European Parliament.
- Grazia Francescato, former president of the Italian Green Party and spokesperson for the European Green Party Federation.
AMY GOODMAN: We’re joined by Grazia Francescato. She is a former president of the Italian Green Party and a spokesperson for the European Green Party Federation. We welcome you, Grazia, to Democracy Now!
GRAZIA FRANCESCATO: Thank you.
AMY GOODMAN: It’s great to have you with us.
GRAZIA FRANCESCATO: Thank you.
AMY GOODMAN: Can you talk first about what it means that the Green Party is part of the Ruling Party Coalition?
GRAZIA FRANCESCATO: Well it’s not. It used to be. Because of course, we were the left, and we would never ever sit in the same government with Berlusconi, needless to say. We are now the opposition, and we are part of the messy peace movement that you mentioned. This is a paradox in Italy. As you said, 88% of Italian people, Italian public opinion is against Iraq war is against war. We are against war as a means to solve conflicts among humans. The paradox is that the government the Berlusconi government is probably the closest ally together with Blair of the Bush government. It this is the paradox. The government is against the people. I think the most massive demonstrations were right here in Rome, 3 million people in the streets. We the greens, were among the first to say not only no to the war in Iraq, but the war in Afghanistan. We agree on fighting terrorism, but how did you do that? By sending troops, by showing are muscles around the world. We think it’s high time to show brains and heart instead.
AMY GOODMAN: So, what effect, what influence does the Green Party have today?
GRAZIA FRANCESCATO: What we have been trying to do is unite at a European level. In the 22nd of February in Rome, right here in Rome the European Green Party put together 32 parties of 29 countries, not only the 25 that belonged to the European union, but country like Ukraine and Georgia, because they believed that we must be at a pan-European level. So now we have 32 parties united in one and we have 32 people sitting in the European Parliament. And now we have 42 people in the European Parliament. We have a big united party, the European Greens and 42 M.P.s in the European Parliament. We are — I cannot sum — if I can sum it up in a slogan, we want Europeans to make a difference. We want Europe to make a difference as greens so Europe can make a difference in the world, building itself as a green civic power, a soft power, not imitating the bush administration in the United States.
AMY GOODMAN: Where is the Green Party strongest in Europe now?
GRAZIA FRANCESCATO: Places like Germany and in the center and north. It’s not a paradox in Europe. If you ask the people in Rome about the environment and nature they are for the environment. Everybody would say, they are for nature and the environment. Perhaps these are the same people throwing things in the streets.. So, because our culture is not like other cultures where you take personal responsibility for the planet, for what you do, it is delegated. That’s typical of southern cultures. You will find that the greens are very — it’s not very low, but they must be consistent as part of the electoral results. In the north and center in the north, they’re much, much strong person Inaudible Translation, sorry for the inconvenience
AMY GOODMAN: What does it mean to have 88% of the people opposed to the war and yet to have prime minister like Silvio Berlusconi, also by the way, didn’t Blair summer Berlusconi’s house, prime minister of Britain?
GRAZIA FRANCESCATO: Yeah. The Berlusconi house is an illicit building. It’s been — we greens have been fighting this. He has been building the villa. He has 1 villas in Italy. You can imagine what example he is giving the Italian people. He’s destroying. What is serious is they are destroying the rule of law. We are concerned mostly with the environmental rights. If you look at everything in Italy, we find out that this government is actually pursuing personal interests, starting with Berlusconi’s interests. That’s the same something about the war, because it’s disregarding the feels of this country. As we said, 88% are against the war, but they want to show the first and most important ally with Bush, and they hope to get something out of the reconstruction of Iraq, if it ever happens.
AMY GOODMAN: What is the connection between the environment and war?
GRAZIA FRANCESCATO: Well, while in Iraq, they said — they used to say we went there because we wanted top find weapons of mass destruction, and they were not there. Then they said, we went there because it was a very bad dictator, but that dictator is — there are dictators around the world and who decides which ones have to be ridded first and why, and who does this. The reason why we’re there, is political reasons but also because there is oil. As you know the need for the need for oil is becoming desperate in this world, and the price of oil is increasing terribly, also because of China and India becoming first actors in the world scenario. So if they listen to the green, I’m talking about the global greens of the world. There are greens in Canada, as well. They are strong. They have 4.3% of the 28th of June in the last elections in Canada. If they listen to greens and that were are for the case that you need to change the patterns energy patterns of our society. We need to move on living — using oil and coal for fuel and fossil fuels, and going towards renewable sources and efficiency. That can be done. We have technology, we can get it done we have everything. You just need to change the policy. You need to political willingness. This is the way the world is leaning.
AMY GOODMAN: I want thank you.
GRAZIA FRANCESCATO: That’s the way the war is led.
AMY GOODMAN: I want to thank you very much being with us. The final comment. You are the former president of the Italian Green Party a woman. The Green Party is unusual in its requirements of gender paratee
GRAZIA FRANCESCATO: I’m very proud to say, we are the only political family in Europe so far that there’s women at every level, not only grassroots, that’s with most parties, not only 50% of candidate, but also at the top level as it is with most parties. We have two spokesmen one male and one female and the group and the parliament. As a matter of fact, they have two votes.
AMY GOODMAN: Thank you for joining us.
GRAZIA FRANCESCATO: Thank you.
AMY GOODMAN: She is the former president of the Italian Green Party, spokesperson for the European Green Party Federation.