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Di Maio: “Letta, Draghi, Mion: it’s part of my job, I speak with people who have different views from me” (Il Fatto Quotidiano)

Dear Director, I have decided to write this letter because I’ve noticed that, for several days now, my appointment schedule is making headline news, with misleading reconstructions penned even by yourself, which particularly pained me.

I want to be clear, the press must do its job. Someone has said that the duty of a journalist is to “turn the pen in the wound”. So my intention here is not to attack reporters. First of all I want to confirm that the meetings with the people mentioned did take place and that, as Foreign Minister, I believe that I will be having many more. Because since I became Minister I have always prided myself on direct contacts with majority and opposition members, and I have always had meetings also with people who represented and, indeed, still represent international and national institutions. Each of these people is invaluable for exchanging views and opinions, especially when we end up arguing strongly because we find ourselves in disagreement.

What I find unbearable, however, is the level of retrospective thinking behind each of my recent meetings. For example, the conjecture that it was my own staff who leaked the news. The journalists who wrote the articles and their editors can easily testify to the contrary.

I had never met with either the former ECB President Mario Draghi or Gianni Letta, and my meeting with them should be viewed simply as part of a healthy and traditional spirit of dialogue. In this case, however, as you well know, Italy is preparing to face one of the most important negotiations ever within the European Union and the Foreign Ministry is in the forefront of these negotiations. Against this backdrop, and because of the very special moment we are going through, I do not find it so shocking to see the former President of the European Central Bank, also given the role played by the ECB, in recent years, in support of the Eurozone. As far as Mr. Letta is concerned, however, I categorically deny the contents of the background article published by the La Stampa newspaper. On the other hand, you yourself, in your editorial, speak of numerous “political gossip from behind the scenes”…

With regard to Autostrade, I would like to take this opportunity to inform you that, yes, I also met with the manager Mr. Gianni Mion, to whom I reiterated the position expressed by Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, according to which “Autostrade can no longer be managed by the Benetton family”. I myself raised this issue within the Government, and with Parliament, and it has certainly not been improvised or expressed for the first time today.

Within the Government, I was the first to oppose the Benetton family’s hold over the company. For this battle I became the object of media speculation and conjectures, because I dared to spearhead a battle that no one else had the courage to wage. I was accused of having brought down the stock price of Atlantia and the 5-Star Movement was mocked and attacked solely because of its defence of a fundamental principle which, after the tragic death of 43 people, is, in our opinion, tantamount to a vindication of justice.

Please allow me to contest the suggestion at the 5-Star Movement is all but brain dead, as also demonstrated by my public support, through my social media, of President Conte’s words. Is it a sin for not having spoken out before 9 p.m.? I’m sorry, but I was on an official visit to Trieste with the President of the Republic Sergio Mattarella, on my return I was involved in a briefing about the meeting held yesterday afternoon with the President of the House of Representatives of Tobruk, Aguila Saleh, and the day before I was in Brussels for a mini summit with 4 with colleagues Le Drian, Mass and the High EU Representative Borrell, also on Libya. In short, we can say that my job is hardly ever boring.

Finally, you also wrote that two years ago I walked away from the opportunity of becoming Prime Minister only so that I did not have to shake hands publicly with Silvio Berlusconi. I thank you, because you indirectly acknowledge my efforts to help set up two governments. However, I must confess to you that the true reason why I walked away from the premiership was my conviction that it’s not an individual who can change a country, but their facts and ideas (based on which firm belief I have twice renounced the role of prime minister and a third time that of deputy prime minister). I don’t know if we are succeeding today, what I can tell you, however, is that we are doing our best and, you must concede, accomplishing something of worth.