Yesterday, Monti’s Ministers of Foreign Affairs and Defense went to Parliament to report on the case of the Italian marines sent back to India.
In a shocking move, Minister of Foreign Affairs Giulio Terzi di Sant’Agata, a career diplomat, simply announced that he was not in agreement with the handling of the case by the Government and that he was tendering his resignation. Mr Terzi di Sant’Agata made clear that the decision to send back the marines had been taken by the Government, possibly by the Prime Minister’s Office, against the advice of the Foreign Office.
Minister of Defense admiral Giampaolo Di Paolo took the floor immediately after his colleague, criticizing his stance.
Mr Monti said he was ‘stunned’ by Mr Terzi’s sudden decision. He will himself report to the Parliament today.
President Giorgio Napolitano was equally upset by Mr Terzi’s coup de théâtre, also because a Minister should tender his resignation to the President himself and not to the Parliament. Mr Napolitano immediately summoned Mr Monti, appointing him as caretaker Minister of Foreign Affairs.
For Italian politics, it was a drama day, with a number of officers from the Armed Forces watching the parliamentary session and the wife of one of the two marines angrily shouting at MPs: ‘Bring my husband back !’
Mr Monti’s Government, which always tried to give a sober image of itself, was badly weakened by the case, which will probably prevent Mr Monti from taking advantage of the frantic negotiations to form a new Government in order to get a ministerial post or a presidential nomination.