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Alfano: «A common front against terror. We need to also involve Moscow» (Corriere della Sera)

“Deep scorn and firm condemnation of the two barbaric acts,” said the newly elected Foreign Minister, Angelino Alfano. “The Berlin massacre and the killing of Russian Ambassador Karlov in Turkey strengthen our conviction that we must give top priority to fighting terrorism in a context of close cooperation with all our international partners. We express our utmost sympathy to Germany and Russia.  

Your first mission plans stops in Berlin, Paris, London and Madrid. How are you planning to answer questions on the duration of the government and on the political stability of Italy?

“Let’s take a look at the political situation in these Countries: France and Germany are close to holding elections, the United Kingdom has just had a referendum and a change of government, Spain has recently come out of a long phase of instability and crisis. This means that I will be meeting with colleagues who know exactly what we’re talking about. I will tell them that the natural end-date of this legislature is February 2018 and if we were to call an early election, I think it could at most be six months earlier. Nothing traumatic. Against this backdrop, I confirm that our foreign policy is not changing route: effective Atlanticism, Europeanism, and multilateralism and a focus on human rights, which have marked all of Italy’s post WWII actions and remain the guarantee of our reliability.”

What different focuses do you intend to give to your office?

“It is evident that, seeing my origin as a Mediterranean frontier man, and my previous post at the Viminale Palace, I will surely focus a little more attention on issues such as managing Europe’s external borders and the relations with the Countries of origin and of transit of migration flows. The third aspect that I want to focus on is linked to my political membership and it is the persecution of Christians.”   

Donald Trump’s election at the White House raises concern and fuels uncertainty on the future of transatlantic relations. A former German Foreign Minister has even predicted the end of the West, meaning thereby the democratic world founded on the security guaranteed by the United States that emerged after World War II. Do you share this alarmism?  

“I never took sides in the electoral campaign for the White House while many others took a stand against Trump. This makes sense if you respect the voters and the relations with the Administrations of other Countries, including the United States of America. I think that there was an excess of diffidence and haughtiness in dealing with the president-elect. What is emerging is an Administration with a mix of Republican traditions that are closely connected to the economic world of business, which is typical of the American democracy. I come from a political background that has given me a first-hand experience with the failure to understand Italian phenomena and the success story of a tycoon. Since I suffered this misunderstanding, I don’t apply it to others and I only try to pursue the principle of truth. Rather, I think it will be essential to convince the United States to be present in regional scenarios, where the absence of their leadership would be penalising for everybody.”  

The U.S.’s future relations with Putin’s Russia have been these last few weeks’ most debated and controversial issue. What does Italy expect the new Administration to do with respect to Moscow?   

“It is our interest that the Trump Administration consolidate its relationship with Russia, something that although standing firm on principles, might avert the risk of a new Cold War. It is unreasonable to hope in a further cooling down. Italy has been consistent, it applied sanctions with firmness and loyalty, picking up quite a costly bill, but it has always said it was against any automatic renewal.”

From 1 January Italy will chair the G7 and the summit scheduled in May in Taormina. Do you think it would be possible, if progress were made in the dialogue, to also invite Vladimir Putin?

“This would seem premature at the moment. The work ahead is complex. The future that I imagine will see Russia back on the bandwagon. But it’s too early to predict this right now.”

What does Libya need to do to make the Sarraj-led Government stimulate peace-making?

“An effective cooperation between institutions and clarifying the role of General Haftar: the international community must unambiguously exercise its weight to bring together the Country’s East and West. Italy has a direct interest, as it paid a high cost for the incompleteness of the international action, in terms of hundreds of thousands of migrants. This is why I say that Libya must remain a priority on the global agenda and that at the same time we must work to achieve agreements with the Sub-Saharan Countries of origin and transit of migration like Niger. I intend to ask Europe that the same amount of energies and resources allocated to the Balkan route also be placed on the central Mediterranean route.”  

With what ideas and initiatives are we preparing to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the Treaties of Rome next March?

“Europe can still be the solution but it must start handing out jobs and rights again. Otherwise it will be impossible to overcome diffidence and scepticism. The Founding Fathers promised, and partly achieved, peace and prosperity. If we betray this pursuit, we can’t be surprised by what is happening: a high rate of unemployment means a high level of populism. In order to revamp the European project, we need to maintain peace and relaunch growth. Then there is the issue of defence, which was already dear to De Gasperi. We must protect ourselves better and have effective military cooperation agreements, not in juxtaposition to NATO, but targeted on strengthening Europe’s comprehensive defence and security system.”  

Matteo Renzi said that we must go back to the Mattarellum electoral law. Do you agree?

“I don’t think that in the current tripolar scenario the “Mattarellum” is the best functioning electoral law. But we must continue to focus on the issue of governability. If we want to move forwards, we must pass a proportional election law with a fair governance-assuring premium in line with the canons of constitutionality indicated by the Constitutional Court.”

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