Minister Antonio Tajani, there seems to be no hint of peace in the war scenario; are we still up for the role of guarantor in a possible negotiation?
«Our goal is clearly to achieve peace but there can be no peace without justice, and therefore without the independence of Kiev. Which means defending the values in which we believe, which also entails an economic cost, as we are witnessing, but we must always start from the facts: there is an invader on one side and somebody under attack on the other. Surely, when the time comes, we will be called to play a role far from secondary that will include the reconstruction of Ukraine, which is bound to come about sooner or later. »
How solid is the majority’s stand on Moscow? You came to the Farnesina claiming the role of guarantor on its international standing. However, we continue to be looked at suspiciously abroad.
«Our position has always been clear, in all institutional fora, including at the European Parliament where everybody, including Berlusconi, voted for very hard texts against the invasion. Russia is a Country that has voluntarily distanced itself from the West, but this does not mean that we should not be working for peace. This said, I repeat that our decisions, ‘our’ meaning Forza Italia, exactly as the decisions of the Lega and of Meloni’s party, are unambiguous, aligned with the EU and the US, taking sides with Ukraine. »
Putin has just called off the agreement on the export of Ukrainian wheat.
«This means depriving millions of poverty-stricken people of food; this too means being guilty of serious crimes against humanity. »
How will our having a premier in the European Conservative group change the balance in Brussels?
«This is a sterile debate: our alliances will always be those that contribute to defending our national interests and enable us to make an effective and constructive contribution at European level. Meloni’s European party voted to elect Von der Leyen as well as Metsola. We are talking about a European right, not of a radical right. We intend to increasingly invest in Community institutions. One of my very first decisions has been to increase the number of diplomats in our Permanent Representation to the EU: we want to count more there. And it is an important increase that will bring us more in line with the weight, including staff-wise, of Germany and France. To strengthen and support our presence in Brussels, where we already have some people of excellence, will be one of our priorities. »
Will we have a sounder relationship with Budapest and Warsaw than with Paris or Berlin?
«I think that nobody can question the fact that I am a convinced pro-European. My appointment already answers your question. It is a political fact that Meloni’s first European meeting was with Macron and that her first State Visit will be to Brussels next Thursday. There is no need to add anything else, except that the rule of law and its regulations must be respected everywhere and for me this is a compelling fact. »
What steps forward should be taken next in EU Treaties?
«The first is political: strengthen democracy within the institutions by conferring legislative powers to the European Parliament. After that, implement a real Common Defence policy. We must put in place a Europe that really partakes in the subsidiarity principle. It is better to pass a less detailed regulation and promote truly far-reaching political initiatives: I’m referring to today’s gas crisis; I’m thinking of migration flows, and we could continue with a long list. In order to better protect European citizens, we need to change some of the balances that we have had up to now. »
Now, in NATO: what are Italy’s chances of running for Stoltenberg’s successor?
«Italy has exceptional human capital: we have had two presidents of the Strasburg-based European Parliament in the last ten years, a great president of the ECB; I think we can aim for any role. »
China is increasingly becoming the West’s real antagonist and we continue to move as National States and as EU members. Does something need to change?
«China is both a partner, a competitor, and a systemic rival. The best way of protecting our interests is to strengthen the EU’s foreign policy. Brussels can certainly have greater weight on major issues than single capitals. Just to mention one aspect, we surely have a problem with economic and industrial partnerships: we need a level playing field, meaning thereby effectively equal conditions; we need to prevent foreign investments from influencing national security assets. In this respect, we must increasingly develop and invest in our cooperation and relations with Africa in order to defend our economic interests, be the promoters of real local development and also combat the risk of new colonization efforts. Africa is our natural partner, both ours and of the EU; if we don’t do certain things, others will. »
In your political agenda, the Mezzogiorno is planned to become a hub for energy sources. How?
«Many foreign investors are interested in contributing to this: it is a big strategic project on which we are ready to start working. »
When will Alessia Piperno be released?
«It is at the top of our agenda these days; we’re all working on it daily. »