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Hamish Macdonald is an NK News contributor and has previously worked at The Korea Herald and for the Australia Centre for Independent Journalism in Sydney.
The Italian government rejected visa applications by four North Korean citizens at the end of September in an effort to comply with UN Security Council (UNSC) resolutions, the country’s implementation report for Resolution 2375 shows.
The report, submitted by the Permanent Mission of Italy to the UN on December 12, also reveals that the individuals were attempting to discuss cooperation in textiles, a sector now subject to sanctions.
“At the end of September 2017, the competent authority in Italy rejected four short-term Schengen business visas requested by individuals from the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, since the requests aimed at discussing possible cooperation in the textile sector,” the report reads.
Resolution 2375, unanimously adopted by the UNSC on September 11, included a ban on the export of textiles from North Korea.
The fact that visa applications were still pending in late September suggests ongoing attempts by North Korean individuals to bypass sanctions.
Resolution 2375 also includes a ban on the operation of joint ventures and cooperative entities with the DPRK, and the Italian permanent mission to the UN also said it is currently reviewing Italian involvement in such entities, which must end before January 9.
Two Italian entities, OTIM Spa – a freight-forwarder previously embroiled in sanctions activity – and Unjong Gasparucci J.V. Co. LTD – a DPRK-Italian joint venture – were present at North Korean trade fairs in 2017.
The implementation report also said that Italy is monitoring the activities of North Korean workers operating in the country.
“The competent authorities in Italy are closely monitoring the few work authorizations granted prior to the adoption of resolution 2375 (2017) in order to ensure conformity with paragraph 17 of the resolution,” the report reads.
Paragraph 17 states that member states shall not provide work authorizations to North Koreans unless approved of by the 1718 Committee on a case-by-case basis in advance, or if the contracts for the DPRK nationals were finalized prior to the adoption of the resolution.
While the report does not state in what sectors the North Koreans are operating, it would likely include several North Korean footballers currently playing professionally in the country.
While Pyongyang maintains an embassy in Rome, Italy has recently applied diplomatic pressure on the DPRK, announcing its intent to expel the North Korean ambassador to the country in October.
In a previous implementation report submitted in February, Italy also announced that the acceptance and accreditation of a new Third Secretary, to replace the counselor for political affairs and the current Chargé D’Affaires at the DPRK Embassy in Rome, had been on hold since December 2016.
Edited by Oliver Hotham