By: Ivan Barić
Although it is hard to imagine, the issue of Syrian chemical weapon has been somewhat of a strife cause in some European countries lately, especially Croatia and Italy. The people of the forementioned countries stated their unhappines and disagreement with the acts of their Governments after the media had covered the story saying that the Croatian Prime Minister promised to the US that the Croatia will accept the burden of destroying chemical weapon seized in Syria. Partially because of the disagreement with the act itself, partially because they didn’t heard of it from the Prime Minister in person, but from foreign media, Croatian citizens, led by two most dominant newspapers in Croatia, had soon started to protest against the PM’s decision, asking how come the voice of the people is neglected in a question of such matter. They were consternated with the arbitrariness shown by the Government, and questioned is it a smart move for a tourist destination, which Adriatic coast most surely is, to make such a move. Of course, health concerns were the main issue, and the fact that some other NATO member or ally countries have even better facilities and infrastructure for such actions. Their efforts yielded with a result – Prime Minister, Zoran Milanović, decided to cancel the entire deal and showed in front of the media to announce that the deal has been canceled and taken entirely by Italy, on whose coast the destruction will happen.
It didn’t went long before the reaction of angry Italian public and media – Croatian citizens went mad because they first heard the news due to foreign media coverage, and the Italian people were introduced to the news by the Croatian Prime Minister! Somewhat of an absurd situaton that demanded an extremely capable spin-doctor who would drain best out of it. However, the situation was not just calmed, but gained a whole other dimension at Thursday, when the Italian news agency ANSA quoted the mayor of an Italian port city Gioia Tauro, where the destruction is ought to happen, saying: „[Italian Foreign Minister Emma] Bonino does not know what democracy is“. Public bickering is, to some extent, regular phenomenon in Southern Europe, but, since the importance of the question, this did not gone unnoticed and the people of Italy, touristic country as well, started a fight through media in order to stop their Government of making such a move. Despite the fact that the Gioia Tauro port will only be used as the transfer site, where 560 tons of Syrial chemical material will be moved from Danish vessel to a US ship, the people and, obviously, the mayor are extremely concerned. „This is very serious. They are putting my life at risk. If anything happens, people will come and get me with pitchforks” , said the mayor. Italian Transport Minister Maurizio Lupi is trying to convince the public that the material won’t ever touch the land, and that the whole operation will be done ship-to-ship. He continued by stating that “The government has chosen the port of Gioia Tauro as particularly appropriate, (because) the port specializes in this type of activity.” The plan, backed-up by the UN, is to transfer the weapons before mid-February, in order to destroy the arsenal somewhere in the international waters by June 30, 2014.
Since the nerve gas Sarin constitues most of the weapon material, and it would be extremely dangerous if it comes in contact with the water because it would be the easiest way for it to spread, this issue should be highly media covered and extremely cautious to be dealt with. Croatian and Italian people are not worried because of nothing, but because they sense a true danger hiding in such risky actions. Therefore, a better solution should be searched for in order to lower the risk of potential catastrophe. Because one can not withstand long without water, we have to do everything that is in our power not to compromise our life source. Destroying dangerous chemical weapon above it definitely is not one of those things.