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An Italian Doctor in the diplomatic service for crisis response?

Miozzo during the organization of relief for the Tsunami, 2004 (credit: Italian civil protection)

(exclusive) Cathy Ashton met him in Haiti during earthquake relief efforts. And she appreciated his work, to the point of asking him to come work with her. Agostino Miozzo, could thus be appointed in the coming days, for “ coordinate crisis response at the EU diplomatic service », a newly created and emblematic position. It will thus be the first Italian appointed to a main post in the service (1).

An expert in disaster relief management

Director of the Office of International Relations and Volunteers of the Italian Civil Protection (Directorate VI) since 2002, Agostino Miozzo has been on all “fronts”. He thus coordinated relief after the Tsunami in 2004, in South Sudan, in Iran (after the Bam earthquake), in Indonesia, in Morocco, in Algeria (earthquake again in 2003), in Ossetia (after the tragedy of Beslan), in the United States (after the Katrina tornado in New Orleans)... But this is not the only experience.

An “Italian doctor” *

Born September 30, 1953, in Camposampiero, “theitalian doctor” spent most of his career on behalf of Farnesina, the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, traveling the world. Graduated in medicine from the University of Milan (in 1980), as a volunteer doctor in Zimbabwe from 1982 to 1984, then coordinator of the emergency program of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Ethiopia, in 1984 – 1985 (this is the time of the great famine and the “Band aid” launched by Bob Geldof). Then, he was a consultant for the international activities of the Higher Institute of Health and the “Bambino Gesù” hospital in Rome (from 1985 to 1999), and responsible for the health and social cooperation program for sub-Africa. Saharan and Mediterranean at the ministry (1985-1991).

In 1991, he took charge, for ten years, until 2001, of coordinating emergency relief operations at the Italian Development Cooperation DG. He thus managed conflict situations between Ethiopia and Eritrea, in Yugoslavia, in Iraq, in Afghanistan, in Rwanda... There was no shortage of carnage in this decade. He also intervened after Hurricane Mitch in Central America, and for other disasters (earthquake in Algeria in 1999), North Korea, Russia, Brazil... During an interlude (1995-1996), he took a position at the Italian Red Cross as head of the crisis unit.

A new emblematic position

This position of “crisis response coordinator” within External Relations is entirely new. It still remains to be defined. It is not, in fact, a question of coordinating the different crisis management structures of European defense (civil or military staff, CMPD, etc.). Nor is it a question of redoing the work done by the two units (future Civil Protection Directorate) of the European Commission, under the direction of Commissioner Georgieva. It is about being at the junction of the diplomatic, the military and the civil so that the EU is more effective. The coordination function will be particularly active when it comes to acting outside the EU with means other stricto sensu than those of civil protection. Its role should be multiple: advise the High Representative, and provide it with its expertise in matters of civil protection and disaster relief throughout the world, as well as its (numerous) contacts at European and international level in the field of disaster relief. . But not only. Through his functions, Miozzo was able to establish certain good relationships with officials from so-called “difficult” countries (Iran, Libya, Palestine, etc.). Which could be valuable. “Disaster relief” action is also, and often, a means of…pure diplomatic action (2).

This appointment – ​​if confirmed – would be quite logical. From a political point of view, it would constitute a clear message of Cathy Ashton's intention to make European coordination of disaster relief a priority issue. Italy has always been (along with France) one of the countries that has pushed this issue the hardest at the European level. It has an effective civil protection force which has deployed very quickly on the ground on numerous occasions. And the appointment of one of its nationals to this position constitutes a guarantee of ambition for the future.

(1) Read: Will the new director of the European Defense Agency be “One”?…

(2) Read: Civil security, the missing piece in the EU – Civil power

(*) Italian doctor refers to the generation of French doctors, of Bernard Kouchner and others, who led to the creation of doctors without borders, doctors of the world and other “interventionist” emergency relief organizations.

Nicolas Gros Verheyde

Chief editor of the B2 site. Graduated in European law from the University of Paris I Pantheon Sorbonne and listener to the 65th session of the IHEDN (Institut des Hautes Etudes de la Défense Nationale. Journalist since 1989, founded B2 - Bruxelles2 in 2008. EU/NATO correspondent in Brussels for Sud-Ouest (previously West-France and France-Soir).

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