ROME “It was a mistake, a gaffe that does not go in the direction of strengthening Europe’s action in favour of Ukraine’s freedom. It was a diplomatic gaffe on the part of the government of a great friendly democracy, and it happened just a few days before the celebration of the Quirinal Treaty between our two countries”. Emmanuel Macron did not invite the Italian Prime Minister, Giorgia Meloni, at the Élysée to meet with the President of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelensky, and the German Chancellor, Olaf Scholz.
Minister Antonio Tajani, you are the head of Italian diplomacy. Does Italy have a problem concerning Ukraine??
“No, there is no issue regarding Ukraine. President Giorgia Meloni saw Zelensky yesterday and we will continue to support Ukraine’s fight for freedom”.
There was a rift, however.
“I’d rather call it a question of institutional politesse with France. A gaffe that does not strengthen European unity on the subject of Ukraine. However, we are capable of moving forward again. I would have expected Italy to be present at the meeting: we have done our part. We supported Ukraine right from the start. We sent over a billion in aid”.
Macron claimed a special role together with Germany in this matter.
“We have just celebrated the Italy-France Quirinal Treaty. I therefore believe that if treaties are respected, perhaps they should be respected all the way”.
Is Italy isolated?
“Not at all. Italy has a leading role that we continue to be committed to. We have the support of the United States and just yesterday we strengthened strategic synergies with the United Kingdom with whom there is full agreement regarding relations with NATO, the migrant question, policies in the Balkans, policies for Libya, peace in the Middle East, the energy question”.
Alongside the Franco-German axis, an Italian-British axis is born?
“The UK sees Italy as a first-rate partner, which is exactly how we see them”.
Do you think the internal polemics and stances against the new decree on sending weapons have had an effect? By the way, when will it be implemented?
“The decree already exists. It was presented to the Italian Parliamentary Committee for the Security of the Republic (COPASIR) and has already been published in the Official Journal”.
What about the sending of weapons?
“We are talking about staggered shipments. There is the whole question of the anti-missile shield pending. It will take a few weeks. But there is no issue”.
There is talk of building new walls. What does Italy think in this regard?
“It is difficult to build walls along the seven thousand kilometres of coastline. It is a matter that does not concern us”.
We have seen a lot of disagreements and different positions within domestic politics in recent days. Does the cohesion of the majority hold?
“Of course, the majority is cohesive. We are in an election campaign, but it seems to me that it is the left that has problems. We have only one candidate in Lombardy and one candidate in Lazio”.
Today is the National Memorial Day of the Exiles and Foibe. Will you attend the celebrations?
“Yes, it is very important to participate. To remember what Italians had to suffer, being murdered just because they were Italians. Europe must serve to erase such crimes, but the memory remains. Looking to the future means supporting choices such as those made by the mayors of Gorizia and Nova Gorica, who together are building a reality under the banner of cohesion and not division: this united city will be the capital of culture, together with Italy and Slovenia. Looking to the future means building the future without forgetting the past”.
The Italian Minister of Justice, Carlo Nordio, rejected the request to revoke Article 41 bis for Cospito. Are you worried about the anarchists’ reactions?
“I am not worried, the decision was taken by the minister after reading the papers, in compliance with the law. The anarchists may continue to organise protests in front of our embassies all over the world. However, the state does not bend in the face of threats”.