Minister Tajani, Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni promised Ukraine military aid until a just peace is achieved. But what would a just peace be?
“The one in which international law is restored and the Russians withdraw from Ukrainian territory”.
It will not happen.
“We will see. Italy is ready to listen to any proposal that could bring the conflict to an end, but our position – which is the same as Europe’s and Nato’s – is clear: we support the ten points of Zelensky’s peace proposal. No one can imagine solutions that are not shared with Ukraine. Otherwise we would not be talking about peace, but about a Ukrainian defeat”.
Is the two Koreas model, with the Donbass in Russian hands, inadmissible?
‘It is. Moreover, the proposal is not on the table. No concessions can be made. The minimum is that the Russians withdraw from the ground, then we can start talking again.
Pope Francis presented Zelensky with an olive branch.
“He is the Head of Christianity and behaves accordingly, also from the viewpoint of symbols. It is obvious that he pushes for peace and does everything to ensure that that the parties find an agreement”.
He does this in a way that seems to please the leader of the Five Star Movement, Giuseppe Conte, more than the government.
“But do you really want to put the Pope and the leader of the Five Star Movement on the same level?”.
Is the sensitivity not the same?
“I certainly do not dare to judge the Pope, whose work, words and great spiritual vision I follow with great attention. But to liken him to the Secretary of an Italian opposition party seems to me to make little sense. On the other hand, it would be easy to reply that if it were as you say, Pope Francis would not have received Zelensky”.
Were you aware of the Vatican peace plan?
Europe seems to be moving in random order.
“Europe is united and recognises itself in the same values also shared by the NATO Member States. Furthermore, Italy is gradually regaining a central and more decisive role in the mechanism of cohesion between States”.
Do you also expect Elly Schlein’s Democratic Party (PD) to start with the distinctions on the need to send arms to Ukraine?
‘I hope not. Elly Schlein has been an MEP for a long time. I would be disappointed if she did so. The common idea of freedom and democracy – which Ukraine is defending for all of us – cannot be questioned.”
Meeting with President Mattarella, Zelensky said: “Italy is on the right side”. Do you believe Matteo Salvini thinks the same way?
“Just look at how the League has always voted. The rest is mere talk. Or are you alluding to the fact that he did not take part in the meetings today?”
I am alluding.
«I therefore remind you of the fact that Salvini is the Minister of Infrastructure and that I participated as Foreign Minister and not as Deputy Prime Minister. That’s all. Moreover, someone should apologize to him for the issue of the Russian funds that ended up in nothing.”
The Leagues’ sympathies for Putin are no mystery.
In politics actions and deeds count and these are there for us all to see. The government has a single policy line. It is serious, coherent and Salvini participated with me in an event on reconstruction in Ukraine that I organized in the EUR neighbourhood just a few days ago”.
You must have forced him to do so.
“Quite the reverse, he came willingly.”
Would Berlusconi have come willingly, too?
«Berlusconi is disappointed in Putin. He worked for many years to bring peace and have Russia in the West and with the Summit held in Pratica di Mare he had almost succeeded. Then things changed, but he certainly did not take sides in favour of the invasion. But now let us leave him to his convalescence and recovery.”
How is the President?
“He is active. He talks, discusses, wants to be present, and cannot ignore the Party’s problems. No one else would have made the video he did.”
Wouldn’t it have been better to spare him this?
«He cared about it and was very keen to do so. He did it. He is a great leader.
Minister, why does not the government want to use the PNRR funds for military supplies?
“Because they are needed to achieve other goals. But we will consider and evaluate every possibility.”
Wagner Commander Evegeny Prigozhin called the Russian President – literally – an asshole. Then he did the same to Gerasimov, the Head of the Armed Forces.
“This demonstrates the great difficulty of the Russian army. An army that was not what we all believed it was. Aside from Prigozhin’s foul language, these tensions show that the Russian troops are disorganized and demotivated. Unlike the Ukrainian ones that are highly motivated. Putin, too, should know the story of the Battle of Thermopylae, where 300 Spartans stopped 70,000 Persians. Motivation makes the difference.”
Has the war weakened the so-called Tsar?
“Putin is certainly weaker. He has multiplied his enemies and annoyed China, which does not need conflict but business”.
What is wrong with China’s peace plan?
“That the ceasefire can only happen when the Russians leave. Not before. But, I repeat, we must pay heed to every attempt at peace”.
Are the Americans dictating the rules of war for us?
“We are not fighting any war. We are helping a country defend its independence. We have no military fighting on the ground. We send electrical material so that people do not freeze to death, as well as aid of all kinds. Food, financial and strategic aid, for example to build green corridors through which wheat can pass”.
Minister, are you afraid of the nuclear bomb?
“I am convinced that no one will use it. But we shall still do everything to make sure that this does not happen. Not even for tactical nuclear weapons, which would trigger off a chain reaction anyway. But I doubt that Putin will use them. He would end up involving his own people as well. Rather, I am worried about the Zaporizhzhia plant, around which a free zone should urgently be created”.
What did Zelensky get from his visit to Italy?
“The confirmation of our commitment and that of Europe and NATO on his side.”
Will Russia and Ukraine still be at war at the end of 2023?
“Who knows. If Russia continues to be so aggressive it will be difficult to achieve peace”.
Minister, in Italy is it enough to say things that are not to the Defence Minister’s liking at the Labour Day concert held on 1 May to be excluded from the Frankfurt Book Fair?
“Are we talking about the Rovelli case?”
“Rovelli was vulgar and what he said was unacceptable in terms of content, tone and manner. The Rovelli case is Rovelli himself. No one can go on TV to insult a Minister.”
Hence had he to be punished?
“Look, none of us intervened to ask for action against him. Certainly not me.”