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Di Maio: We will close the borders to those who keep out the Italians (Corsera)

“We believe in the European spirit, but we are ready to close our borders to those who do not respect us”. Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio thus responds to the closures of tourist flows announced by some countries.

You said that if someone treats Italy like ‘a lazaret’ you will not remain silent. What did you mean by that?

“The region reopening phase will start on June 3; dealing with a foreign state while we still have restrictive rules is complicated”.

Yes, but what will the Government do? Close the borders to those who do not let in?

“We believe in collaboration but also reciprocity. This is the spirit I will bring to my travels in Germany, Slovenia, and Greece. Italy has distinguished itself for its transparency, and our data are very comforting. We do not want to raise controversy, but if someone thinks to close the borders just for their own interests, then we will respond. Faced with personalistic attidutes, we will also close the borders. However, there is a constructive dialogue on the part of many states. Relations with my German colleague, Mr Mass, are excellent. On the 5th June I am going to Berlin to discuss Libya and tourist flows. We have manifested our concerns about alleged corridors on the basis of bilateral agreements, and Germany has reassured us”.

How do you view the behaviour of Greece imposing quarantine on four Italian regions?

“I will talk from my counterpart today and on the 9th I will be in Athens to explain the real situation in all our regions”.

Several governors in the South do not believe that permitting the movements among regions is a good idea.

“I understand the concerns of those who administer the territories, but the government’s choices are dictated by a confrontation with the Scientific Committee”.

Mayor Sala said he will remember the attitude of Sardinia and Sicily when he decides where to go on holiday. Do you share the irritation of the mayor of Milan?

“I think the point is another and concerns the criterion of homogeneity of measures adopted between regions. If everyone makes individual choices it is difficult to communicate the real state of health of the country abroad. At this moment we need unity”.

Zingaretti calls for “a climate of national harmony”. After a short pause, the electoral anxiety of differentiation seems to have returned.

“I’ve been asking this approach for weeks. I agree, this is not the time for controversy. The country doesn’t deserve a permanent electoral campaign atmosphere.”

In recent days you said that with the money from the Recovery fund you would like to cut taxes, but your plan has been blocked because those funds could not be used for that purpose.

“I said that we can’t miss the opportunity to start a major modernization of the country to achieve tax advantage. Clearly, with the arrival of new European resources, other internal resources will be freed up for tax reform. I saw a veil of prejudice from someone and I am sorry about that. However, I’m sure the Government will be able to come to an agreement”.

While waiting for the Recovery Fund, will it be necessary to make more debt? How? Is the the ISM mechanism still an option?

“Timing is key. Now there will be the negotiation phase and it will be crucial to show unity. The ISM is not an option, even President Conte confirmed that, and the M5S has a lot of confidence in his words.

In recent days Minister Franceschini has relaunched the idea of a permanent pact between Pd and 5 Stars parties. That includes, therefore, the local alliances for the next administration. Do you agree?

“We get along very well with Minister Franceschini and the executive is working well. Obviously, each case is different. Now it is important to focus on the present.”

What did you mean when you explained in an interview that in case of crisis “there are no automatisms”? Is there room for other governments, perhaps of national unity?

“In my answer I also declared that it would be insane to even think about overthrowing the Government in this emergency. As often happens, my words were then exploited”.

Trump’s reaction to the Minneapolis murder was tough. Do you share it?

“The killing of George Floyd is an act to be condemned and it is what the Washington administration did by arresting the cop who killed him. That said, I do not think burning down a city will do him justice. Burning down a police station is not the right way to protest.”

Your first reaction to the Chinese repression in Hong Kong seemed weak, then you adjusted it. In the past, you were described as pro-Chinese and criticized for it.

“Actually, we are among the few countries to be directly exposed to it. We also expressed our concern at the last Foreign Affairs Council and contributed to the Joint Declaration. I do share Borrell’s stance. Sanctions are not a solution, but it is important to reaffirm the right of Hong Kong citizens to demonstrate peacefully. I support Italy, a country that has clear alliances, like NATO, but is free to make trade agreements with those who believe. In the EU, Germany is Beijing’s first trading partner, yet no one is accusing Chancellor Merkel of being pro-Chinese. This can make you understand of how much Italy still must grow. We live in a globalized world, let’s not forget that”.

The meeting with the Mayor of Rome Raggi seemed a blessing for her to re-candidate. Is it true?

“Haven’t seen Virginia in a while. Our meeting was already scheduled. We did not talk about a second term or anything else, but about the work she is doing with determination in Rome. I congratulated her. She deserves it.”

The impression is that you are still the leader of the Five Star Movement. Are you ready to reapply to the States General?

“I just want to do my job at the ministry at best”

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