DI MAIO SPEAKS WITH “SPORTELLATE”. IN LIBYA WE NEED BOTH DIALOGUE AND FORCEFULNESS
Di Maio says that the wells dug by Eni in Libya are geostrategic assets of Italy and must therefore “be forcefully defended”. Di Maio mentions the praise spoken by Merkel (she approached me and said: “You are well spoken of”). Di Maio explains the need for Italy’s next military mission – already authorised and financed – against terrorists in the African Sahel, because “if those countries collapse we will feel the fallout”. Di Maio praises the negotiating power of the European Union because it is much stronger than that of any individual countries and therefore it is convenient for all member countries that the European Union should negotiate externally – the very same argument used by former British Prime Minister Tony Blair a few months ago.
As I write out the answers that the Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio gave me over the phone, from his office in the Foreign Ministry, I start feeling sorry for Marione. Marione, whose name is actually Mario Improta, was a cartoonist who spearheaded the original advance of the 5-Star Movement on social media. He glorified the ideology of the movement with very aggressive cartoons and perfectly represented at the time (he left the Movement a few months ago) the irruption of populism in Italy, over the remains of the Second Republic. He compared Europe to Auschwitz, a lager from which we should escape, or as a monster dragging a chained Italy, depicted as a beautiful slave dressed in the nation’s flag, and still sees Germany as an evil stepmother forcing Cinderella-Italy to scrub the floor. I feel bad for him (it is, of course, only a rhetorical artifice), and many others besides, such as Undersecretary Manlio Di Stefano and Alessandro Di Battista, who once expressed only slightly less nasty views. And I also feel bad for Davide Casaleggio, founder of the 5-star Movement and owner of Casaleggio Associati, who today, according to the newspapers, is the guardian of what remains of the original “anti-establishment” movement.
Thirty-four-year-old minister Di Maio was for a long time the frontman of the horde who donned a suit and tie to act as the spokesman and political leader of the movement. Then the horde behind him largely dissolved, changed its tone, lost its drive, but Di Maio kept his position as frontman, building up an extensive curriculum – in the space of just two years he has served as Deputy Prime Minister and has occupied three Government departments – and faced with the prospect of no longer being elected, because of the muddled rule introduced by the 5-Star Movement regarding no more than two terms in elected office. But this, Luigi Di Maio’s first interview with the Foglio, is all about foreign policy, although, as we shall see, it is difficult to talk about the world without touching on the events happening in Italy. The interview was recorded on Wednesday 8 July, between one and two in the afternoon, and is divided into four sections: Europe, Libya, China and the rest of the world. There was also an extra question via WhatsApp about the meeting with Mario Draghi, former president of the European Central Bank.
A STRONGER EUROPEAN UNION
Pedro Sánchez, the head of the Spanish government, said in an interview with the Corriere daily that Italy and Spain have given a titanic response to the coronavirus crisis and that he believes that this response is a step towards the United States of Europe. Do you agree that Italy’s response to the coronavirus crisis is a step towards a stronger European Union?
“Undoubtedly we have started discussions concerning not only the resources we need and the new financial instruments that need to introduced, but also about how to reform the European institutions. Objectively speaking, we were already talking about this before the pandemic, when the conference on the future of the European Union was launched, precisely because Ursula von der Leyen’s mandate, which we supported as both a political party and a member of the Italian Government, included a thorough overhaul of the institutional system of the EU. Where it will lead to will also depend on us and on how we can seize the opportunity of a more united EU in these days. In other words, if the Next Generation EU is an ambitious plan, we will necessarily have the political drive at European level also to design a more ambitious institutional architecture. I believe that we are all agreed on this. Furthermore, this is a time when other supranational entities are also discussing about how to become stronger, NATO has appointed a Committee of Experts, the United Nations have been talking about the revision of their internal rules for years, there is a need at this time in history to strengthen our international and supranational institutions to face the global challenges. Among which is also the coronavirus”.
Since we are talking about Europe and financial instruments, lets also tackle the Mes: is it still a taboo subject for you or are there circumstances under which it could become acceptable?
“Look, I’ll be straightforward with you on this: Prime Minister Conte himself has said that there is no need for this instrument. Personally, I would like to add that we are negotiating an ambitious plan – the Next Generation EU – which features many resources, and Italy is the first promoter of this plan, so it is very important at this time in the negotiations to aim for the maximum result. The individual instruments, Sure, Bei, Mes, are all part of a much bigger negotiation framework that aims to create a Recovery Fund, so also from the point of view of the negotiation I am in full agreement with the Prime Minister’s policy, which is: now is the time to negotiate, let’s not talk about other instruments, because otherwise we will only weaken our negotiating strength”.
So it is just a negotiating tactic? We won’t mention the Mes because otherwise we will weaken our position.
“I don’t think that’s a negotiating tactic. I think if we’re aiming to use another, much bigger instrument then it’s best that we focus on that”.
Until now, which meeting has struck you the most in your experience as Foreign Minister? Have you changed your mind about anything in this period spent at the head of the Foreign Ministry compared to before – and, in particular, compared to when the Five Star Movement was in the opposition?
“The first is undoubtedly the liberation of Silvia Romano. Not the liberation itself, because I knew that our intelligence services had been working on it for a long time, and so had our diplomatic corps, but the speculation that was made about a 25-year-old girl, just because she appeared wearing a veil after almost two years of captivity, as well as the hypocrisy of those who attacked her, of those who, to hide their iniquity, continued to blame the Government for their attacks, as if publicly celebrating the liberation of a fellow citizen could be a fault, and this by people who don’t even have the courage to look at themselves in the mirror. I don’t understand, maybe someone wanted us to hide Silvia Romano away, this is certainly one of the things that struck me the most. I received requests from all over Italy asking for her liberation, asking us to work harder for liberation, we worked for six months, our intelligence services gave me proof that she was still alive months before and we couldn’t even tell her family, then we managed to free her and an incredible hatred and viciousness was unleashed against her. When you only have to consider that the girl was 23 years old when she was kidnapped, and she remained a captive for a year and a half, to understand the amount of suffering involved here. Another meeting that struck me was with Chico Forti’s uncle. It’s a subject that we are following very closely. The Covid pandemic has slowed down certain procedures that we had begun with the United States government, but I repeat that we are doing all we can for Chico Forti, and I think it is appropriate to follow the case with an adequate profile, because in my opinion a calm and composed attitude and dialogue with the American government can bring many results. Finally, there’s an episode concerning Chancellor Angela Merkel, during the Berlin conference, when – almost nobody knows – she approached me and said: ‘I have heard good things about you, Di Maio. They speak well of your work.’ In short, it was something that I would never have imagined would happen to me in my life and it was another thing that struck me as Foreign Minister’.
What about the meeting with Mario Draghi?
“Look, it was an institutional meeting like many others. As Minister for Foreign Affairs it is natural that I also talk and have discussions with the former President of the ECB Mario Draghi. I see nothing strange about it. We had an exchange of views on various issues specifically because of his role at the head of the European Central Bank. It was a cordial and fruitful meeting, he made a very good impression on me”.
In London, Boris Johnson’s government has to face the coronavirus crisis and, what’s more, it still has to implement Brexit, which certainly hasn’t been completed yet.
“The choice of a country to leave the European project has never been considered a victory, by one of the founding countries like Italy. Having said that, the 2016 referendum was a sovereign choice of the British people and must be respected as such. The British people should not be punished for this choice and I also believe that on more than one occasion, including the latest general elections in the United Kingdom, it has been demonstrated that that’s the path the British people want to go down. So our aim now is to prepare for the future, rather than to judge the past. We must support the EU’s Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier, in order to achieve the best result from the point of view of the European single market, and at the same time we must ensure that the withdrawal agreement does not harm the Italian economy, or rather that trade relations continue. I would never be tempted, as I always say to other European states, to clinch a bilateral deal because the negotiating weight that the European Union has vis-à-vis Great Britain in the withdrawal agreement, is much greater than the weight of any individual state negotiating bilaterally. We should never forget this.
The European Union is useful to us because it has the weight of a multitude of states, not of a single government…
“Exactly. I have argued many times, for example in connection with the migrant repatriation agreements, that when the European Union intervenes as a whole it has a much bigger negotiating power, because it speaks on behalf of the single market as a whole and not of the internal market of a single country, and has a much stronger economic clout”.
THE WAR IN LIBYA. WE WANT TO TALK WITH EVERYONE, BUT WE WILL SEND SOLDIERS TO TRIPOLI AND IN THE SAHEL
In Libya, the Italian government attempted for all the fourteen months of the civil war that followed General Khalifa Haftar’s surprise attack on Tripoli in April 2019 to mediate between the two sides. Triangulation went badly, mainly because both sides have foreign sponsors who send money, weapons and men to keep the war going. And this has put Italy – and more or less everyone in Europe, although we are the most involved – in an embarrassing situation, forced as we are to handle the Libyans’ tantrums and to have our proposals rejected. At the end of the day, Tripoli prevailed on the field thanks to the armed intervention of Turkey and for now the situation is in a state of suspension: Libya is still divided in two and we’re all back to square one, but with a lot more weapons and much less confidence than before.
Libya is a country of great interest to us for many reasons. During this fourteen-month civil war Italy sided with neither of the two contenders, Fayez al Serraj and Khalifa Haftar. Yet it was Haftar who started the war, with his attack on Tripoli, and who scrapped the entire peace process. Was it right to treat them equally? Have we not given Haftar far too much credit? After all, he was forced to withdraw. Furthermore, the Serraj government is our ally, we have important agreements under way with Tripoli, but at the time of the crisis we did not take a clear position in his favour.
“I think we must begin by highlighting our objective, which has always been to create a global political solution for the Libyan parties, condemning the use of military action. That is why, in recent months, we have adopted dialogue as the only instrument of political initiative, and to do this we had to keep the communication channels with all the Libyan parties open. This should not be confused with an equidistant position. On the one hand, there is a party that has launched an offensive with dramatic consequences, and on the other there is the legitimate government recognised by the United Nations. Now that the government in Tripoli has secured control of the capital and regained control of Tripolitania we are faced with a priority, which is to return to the negotiating table and conclude a lasting ceasefire. In order to do this all the Libyan parties must show restraint, and this applies to all those involved in Libya, their role must be genuinely constructive. We have always chosen to keep an open channel of communication with all the Libyan forces, but at the same time our relations with the Government in Tripoli have never slackened, even in the most critical phase of the crisis. This is demonstrated by the continued presence of our embassy in Tripoli, in the Libyan capital, which was, in my opinion, an important sign of support for the government of national agreement at a very difficult time and, thanks to Ambassador Buccino, we were able to hold a genuine dialogue of cooperation and, I would add, friendship. Plus there is the fact that, as was confirmed to me in Tripoli last 24 June, there is a great desire for Italy’s presence in Libya. Now, for our country, it is a matter of putting this credibility to good use. I believe that we are doing so. We are doing it through actions that are consistent with our position, such as the demining operation that our soldiers will carry out. We have confirmed our commitments to cooperation and development and have other projects in the pipeline. Added to this is the fact that, in addition to guaranteeing the sovereignty and integrity of Libya and supporting the Libyan people and its institutions, we have always worked to defend our geostrategic assets, and to achieve this we are working to unblock the wells, and then to export oil and gas. We need to acknowledge that Eni is there on the ground. Our geostrategic assets are there. Our embassy is there to protect our geostrategic assets as well, and we are also doing this with a view to seizing new opportunities linked to the friendship we have built up with the government in Tripoli”.
So we have faith in Serraj’s government in Tripoli?
“Personally I have always maintained that we must help the Libyan people, we have always had very good relations with the Government recognized by the United Nations. Mine clearance means saving lives, some children were blown up on mines just a few weeks ago. It means strengthening our existing military presence in Libya, with a hospital in Misurata. It means strengthening development cooperation by providing aid to the municipalities that we have confirmed [these are the agreements made by the former Interior Minister Marco Minniti, in 2017] and it also means ensuring that our companies, which were already working in Libya – and which need to resume some of the work they were doing there – to carry on working safely”.
Senator Fabrizio Ortis, leader of the 5-star Movement in the Senate Defence Committe, has said that the Movement strongly supports new military missions abroad, in particular Operation Takuba in the Sahel, which is close to the Libyan border. Is it also a matter of defending our interests there?
“I believe that, first of all, Europe has no interest in allowing any countries to fail. Because if some states in the Sahel – which are already in dire straits – collapse, the ensuing instability will lead to a peak in terrorism and other migratory flows, they are two separate things, they are two phenomena, just a few hundred kilometres from our shores. Therefore, working in the Sahel according to the Italian position, which is a Medevac mission, means exploiting the possibility of participating in the stabilization of an area that is also closely connected with Libya. Because the instability of those areas, for example, also provides mercenaries from those areas to the Libyan factions. This is very important”.
[N.B. The Medevac Mission means that Italy, operating within an international coalition, will rescue and evacuate the wounded. We did the same in Iraq during the war against the Islamic State. This type of mission abroad is generally undertaken by the special forces].
You often mention the principle of non-interference, which requires that foreign countries should not interfere in the internal affairs of other states. But isn’t there a risk that the principle of non-interference effectively becomes a shield for political regimes that behave badly? From the Balkans to Rwanda, there have been many cases where much faster intervention by the international community would have saved lives. Strict adherence to the principle of non-interference could prevent Italy from having a more meaningful foreign policy.
“The principle of non-interference is enshrined in our Constitution and was reaffirmed by our country once again after the Second World War and which inspired the creation of supranational organizations such as the United Nations. A foreign minister can only respect the principle of non-interference and it is also part of my personal values. That does not mean, however, that we should turn away and not denounce serious violations of fundamental human rights wherever they occur. Using dialogue, which is the main instrument of our foreign policy, in order to achieve political results, also in armed conflicts, must not be mistaken for remaining silent in the face of major violations. Nor does this mean that we are not prepared to forcefully defend our geostrategic assets, but it is always important to do so according to Italy’s position, which has always represented an added value, worldwide”.
So when you say forcefully, do you also intend our assets in Libya, for example?
“I have always maintained that the way to help the Libyan people is by guaranteeing the sovereignty and integrity of Libya, while at the same time protecting our interests”.
THE CHINA PROBLEM
Alessandro Di Battista wrote in the Fatto quotidiano daily that Italy has “a privileged relationship with Beijing which, like it or not, is also thanks to Di Maio’s work. China will win the Third World War without firing a shot and Italy can put this relationship on the European bargaining table”. As if to say that we should be interested in the relationship with China more than that with the European Union. You sponsored the memorandum of understanding with China, are you in agreement with Di Battista?
“First of all, Italy is solidly a member of NATO, we very clearly uphold Euro-Atlantic values, the United States is our main ally and this is our place in the world. Italy is an autonomous country, of course, but we do take our allies’ concerns seriously. As far as Beijing is concerned, there are countries in Europe that have much more stable relations with China than Italy. I am thinking of Germany, which is Beijing’s number one partner in Europe, yet no-one would dream of claiming that Merkel is a friend of Xi Jinping. Italy is firmly part of the West, but if good trade opportunities arise then it is right that we should try, in the interest of our businesses, while respecting the principles of security and stability of the alliance. I believe that international relations on the political and economic level in today’s globalised world cannot be based on the principle of exclusivity or alternativeness, our economy and above all our exports need all markets, although we must always remember that, ultimately, this can never call into question our international position as members of NATO and the European Union, of which we are a founding country. I also wish to recall that when I was running for political leader of the 5-star Movement, I spoke very clearly within my own party as well. I have always affirmed – and there’s a 2015 interview with the Financial Times to prove it – that the Movement must support this position wholeheartedly, solidly in favour of NATO membership. And as a political leader I have also made it clear that we were not leaving the euro and that we will remain within the European Union. I have founded my campaign for election as political leader and then as candidate prime minister for the 5-star Movement on these precise cornerstones. In this government I uphold these issues with even greater conviction, if possible”.
Regarding the choices to be made with China and America, the daily Repubblica has written: “Last week an official Italian government car turned up at the main gate of Villa Taverna in Rome, the residence of the US ambassador, Lewis Eisenberg. Inside that car was the Foreign Minister, Luigi Di Maio. It was not a routine visit. There were various topics of discussion, but one was paramount for the Americans: the 5G network (the latest-generation telecommunications infrastructure)”.
“I have a beautiful relationship with Lewis Eisenberg, as well as a very strong friendship that has grown over these years in government, in which we have willingly addressed the concerns of our allies concerning 5G. We intend to take these concerns seriously; in two years we have passed three decrees strengthening the security of 5G and the national security perimeter. On this issue – and keeping in mind that 30% of Italy’s GDP is made up of exports, which means, like I said earlier, that we intend to protect our commercial interests by strengthening trade partnerships with other countries – I want to make it clear that if our allies are concerned about national security we must take these concerns into account. We have approved three decrees to strengthen our 5G regulations, as a result of which severe restrictions are now in place, in connection with our golden share, which apply to the entire telecommunications sector, not just 5G. However, let me also add something else, which I always say when I meet with our American friends: at the European Union level we need to implement an initiative for ratcheting up security to adequately tackle the threats facing our telecommunications industry. Today Italy has, I believe, on a par with France, the strictest 5G regulations and it is our duty, and I intend to work on this in the coming months, to spearhead a European initiative for standardising the security measures for 5G and telecommunications in general. This is not just to reassure our allies, with whom we continuously share sensitive information, it’s also important to ensure the sovereignty of our countries and the security of our strategic telecommunications infrastructure”.
Correct me please if I’ve misunderstood, are you calling for a Europe-wide legislation on this issue?
“Absolutely. Because it is essential for us to protect our strategic infrastructures at European level. This way we also have the possibility of sharing information with greater peace of mind”.
China is forcibly scrapping Hong Kong’s autonomy and building colossal internment camps to repress the Uyghur population, can we afford to ignore these facts any longer?
“We can not and we are not. I believe that no one in Italy and in Europe is ignoring what’s happening in Hong Kong, and since 21 May, when Beijing decided to enact the law on national security, Italy has already spoken out seven times on this issue, once with the European Union, once with the G7 and once myself, on the sidelines of the General Affairs Council meeting of 29 May. On that very occasion, when Hong Kong was discussed, I reiterated Italy’s serious concern about the effects of China’s decision, because it must not undermine the ‘one country two systems’ principle. And the Italian position we are pursuing in all forums is to preserve Hong Kong’s stability, prosperity, autonomy and fundamental rights. Consistently with this approach, we have several times voiced our intention, at the Human Rights Council in Geneva and elsewhere, to defend and respect human rights and protect ethnic minorities, also with particular reference to Xinjiang [the Uighur region]. Every time Italy has taken a stand on the matter and we will continue to do so, to preserve the “one country, two systems” principle.
That’s all very well, but what if your declarations simply aren’t enough? Would Italy, in agreement with other countries, consider taking further measures or do we stick to declarations of condemnation for now?
“I believe that once again the international forums are the places in which to discuss the issue and we will try to understand how to stop any initiatives that undermine the principle of ‘one country, two systems’, but at the moment it is essential to discuss these things in the international forums, there can be no initiatives by a single country”.
THE SALE OF FRIGATES TO EGYPT AND THE SEARCH FOR THE TRUTH ABOUT REGENI
What’s happening with Egypt? Why is it so hard to ensure that Italy is respected? Years go by and it seems that, in the relations between Cairo and Rome we are the weaker link – when this is clearly not the case. Something very serious has happened, an Italian student was slaughtered more than four years ago, and we still haven’t come to terms with it. Do you realize that if the Five Star Movement were in opposition and it turned out that the government was selling arms to Egypt, there would be protests on a daily basis?
“We consider the assassination of Giulio Regeni a priority and let me tell you this, it is a priority not just for this government, but also for the previous one. The truth about the assassination of Giulio Regeni is the first question we put on all levels, I witnessed it myself, both in the previous government as Deputy Prime Minister and in this one as Foreign Minister, we have always put the issue of finding the truth concerning Giulio Regeni at the top of our agenda. I also had the opportunity to reiterate this to my counterpart, the Egyptian Foreign Minister Shukry, in a letter I wrote to him on 18 June last: our objective is to shed full light on his assassination. We have facilitated meetings between the prosecutors, we are trying to obtain as much information as possible. At the same time, of course, we have another kind of dialogue with our Egyptian counterpart, for example with Libya. Egypt is one of the players in the Mediterranean and we cannot afford not to talk to them. Our attitude has always been to engage in the frankest and most demanding dialogue on the truth about Giulio Regeni with the Egyptian authorities, we have demanded progress and we expect tangible and significant results in the identification of the perpetrators of that crime, however, we cannot separate our absolute commitment to the search for the truth from maintaining relations with Egypt, because Italy has an interest in maintaining close ties with this country, also because of the role that Egypt plays in the Mediterranean – for example for Libya, the fight against terrorism, illegal trafficking. Regarding all these matters, Italy must necessarily talk to Cairo. But the priority issue, and I must add the issue that does not allow us to normalise our relations, is precisely the case of Giulio Regeni. Until we have the truth it will be difficult to normalise our relations. This is the key issue. The frigate question does not jeopardise our search for the truth. Like when we talk about Libya and have our discussions, I’ve also been to Cairo to talk about Libya, this does not jeopardise the search for truth. And the presence of our ambassador there does not jeopardise the search for the truth, on the contrary it is yet another channel through which we can put pressure on the government to obtain the truth”.
I’m struck by “until we have the truth it’ll be hard to normalise our relations”. Can we set some deadlines, considering the expectations in Italy surrounding the Regeni case? Can we set a date by which the case should be resolved? Because for four years now the whole country has been hanging on to everything Egypt says and yet every time the Egyptians push the timeline for a solution further into the future.
“I understand these expectations very well, especially by the family, and I can’t even begin to imagine how hard it was and still is for them. What I want to say, though, is that when I arrived at the Foreign Ministry the prosecutors hadn’t spoken to each other for a year. I arrived at the ministry in September, the prosecutors in January had a technical meeting and after the Covid emergency they had a conference call and there will probably be other meetings in the near future and we expect something concrete to come out of that. In an international relationship it’s always ‘as soon as possible’. And we’re working to get results as soon as possible. You have to keep in mind that the prosecutor in Cairo has changed, so all relations between the judicial authorities in the two countries will have to start afresh, but now need to speeded up, based on the assumption that we need to get results as soon as possible”.
But doesn’t being too diplomatic lead to losing one’s voice? Have there been occasions when you would have acted with more determination – if everything had depended on a decision by the Foreign Minister?
“The Foreign Minister can only believe in diplomacy. Diplomacy, dialogue, moral suasion, are part of our Constitution. I believe that it is the only means by which stable results can be achieved. If by determination we mean weapons or the use of force, I remind you that today we are using diplomacy to solve the problems caused by the use of force in the past. Take Libya, for example, but many other scenarios as well. So what I can say is that at this moment in time without diplomacy we would have a world at war; diplomacy has avoided wars. One can be more or less determined, but always within the confines of diplomacy – and democracy”.
Many in Europe see Donald Trump’s second presidential term in the United States as a very high risk.
“We have excellent relations with the Trump administration, both the two governments of which I was a member, after all Italy has always had excellent relations with the United States. It doesn’t depend exclusively on who the president is, but we have excellent relations with the United States because we share common values, we share alliances and we share common paths. Having said that, I do not usually make predictions about electoral competitions that take place in other countries, I say that the bond of friendship between peoples is shaped by history and I am sure that Washington will in any case remain a valuable ally of ours, in the fight against terrorism, in the promotion of human rights, in the protection of the rule of law, in all those issues – peace, security, health and global prosperity – that represent the cornerstones of our goals and values”.
But Trump has certain temptations, like pulling out of NATO, which would get us into trouble and if he is voted in for a second term he might even continue in that direction.
“We’ve always talked to President Trump about NATO, but pulling out of NATO (laughs) has never been a topic of discussion by him and the same goes for me. The Atlantic Alliance today represents one of the fundamental instruments on which peace in the West is based today, and which allows us to avoid other problems in other regions of the world, so, personally, I think that we are bound to the United States by common values which are enshrined in the DNA of our two countries, beyond the current Administrations in Italy and in the United States”.
The case of the alleged funding from Venezuela has already been dismissed by public opinion, in the sense that it is no longer a topic of discussion, but your position in favour of Maduro has been explicit in recent years. Has it changed?
“President Maduro’s second term is based on elections that are not credible and, in fact, Italy, like all our Western partners, has not recognised them. There is an increasingly worrying authoritarian drift, which must be reversed, our aim is to guarantee a future of serenity and prosperity to the Venezuelan people and for this reason we have always maintained that those elections were not credible and could not mark the beginning of a new term for President Maduro. The objective is to succeed in triggering a new political process that will lead to fair elections, perhaps even under the aegis of the United Nations”.
New elections in Venezuela under the aegis of the United Nations?
“We need the political process to be monitored by an independent body, which can only be the United Nations”.
The 5-Star Movement have always insisted a lot on the principle of transparency in politics, but I’m sure that the Foreign Ministry appreciated the possibility of working discreetly for the country, diplomatic successes don’t happen in the limelight: maybe not everything can be streamed live, as the original movement insisted on doing?
“We need to separate the two levels, because negotiations on international agreements are one thing, while the internal processes of a political party are an entirely different matter. However, I remember that already in the previous Parliament the Five Star Movement had stopped streaming its parliamentary group meetings – which were the most important meetings to decide the political elections – because everyone understands that the negotiation phase or the planning phase of a strategy if made public can considerably weaken the negotiating clout. So, the important thing is the result, the important thing is what the negotiations produce and this must not only be transparent, but also aimed at achieving the collective good. That’s how we work at the Foreign Ministry; maybe you spend years on a negotiation, you work for years to get a hostage released, but then you get the result and make it public”.
Discreet proceedings then, but with the results brought out into the open.
“It couldn’t be otherwise, because otherwise we’d lose all our negotiating power to get a good result. There probably wouldn’t be any result at all.”