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Tajani «Our weapons shall be used only on Ukrainian territory» (Il Mattino)

Intervista Ministro (Il Mattino)
Intervista Ministro (Il Mattino)

Italian Foreign Minister and Deputy Prime Minister, Antonio Tajani, reiterated: «We made a commitment: we will keep it and we will check that the weapons are only used, for defence, on Ukrainian territory». As to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict he reaffirmed: «Italy is ready to send Italian soldiers on a peace mission as part of a UN mission».

In Ukraine you are for a collective choice agreed with NATO. Your colleague Salvini is peremptory in saying no to arms against Russia. These are two almost opposite positions.

« I do not agree with Stoltenberg; choices are to be made jointly. However, we remain committed to sending military equipment to be used only on Ukrainian territory, for defence, and we will check that this happens. We are not at war with Russia, but Ukraine must defend itself».

Yet now there is a view that a step forward is needed.

«We will not send any Italian soldiers to Ukraine and we do not want our military equipment to be deployed in Russia: if others want to do so, let them do so. But we are strongly committed to support Ukraine, to defend the territorial integrity of Ukraine, which is an attacked country, so that the aggressor Putin does not win. This is the only way to force him to sit at the negotiating table with Zelensky and sign peace. I do not see any other option available at the moment».

What about the conflict in the Middle East? You have just met with Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammed Mustafa.

«We are working so that there is no attack on Rafah. We want a ceasefire. This is our position and the position of all the G7 countries: we need a quick release of the Israeli hostages and we need to bring in aid for the Palestinian population. Thus food and other goods would arrive and not only for the suffering population. But it is not easy».

In what sense?

«With the rockets that Hamas continues to launch against Israel precisely from Rafah, it seems that they want to trap the Israeli army in order to stop any prospect for peace. This is the reason why we talk to the Palestinian Authority, which we recognise. In the future, Italy is ready to send soldiers, as part of an Arab-led UN mission, to start a political phase after the conflict that leads to the birth of a Palestinian State that is recognised by Israel».

EPP leader Manfred Weber said “never Salvini in the EU’s majority”. Should your allies drop Le Pen, Vox and Orban who have positions irreconcilable with the EPP?

«It has always been so. Majorities in our country do not follow those in Europe and vice versa. Bearing this in mind, Forza Italia is in favour of a majority composed of EPP members, Liberals and Conservatives. Salvini could obviously enter such a majority: no problem with him, but not with anyone having anti-European positions».

Is this the reason why you insist on a useful vote for Forza Italia?

«To make Italy count, we must make Forza Italia count in the EPP. Because the European People’s Party is the leading political force in the EU and no important decision can be taken without this political force. I have just come back from a two-day visit to Campania and Apulia where I found a great desire to get things done and an enthusiasm that was not there until a few months ago. I see a growing party, as well as support for our projects. Many mayors have joined my appeal: the mayors of Venice, Palermo, Fiumicino, Imperia, Arezzo and the leader of a civic list close to Michele Emiliano. It is a sign that we are a reassuring force and that there is also a desire in Italy for the EPP».

Will there be an overtaking of the League as some polls suggest? Will relations in the centre-right coalition change after the vote?

«I only work to gather the largest consensus for Forza Italia: our political collocation is between Giorgia Meloni and Elly Schlein. My goal is to enlarge the centre-right coalition, but not to the detriment of the opponents. We want to make Forza Italia the centre of Italian politics».

What is Forza Italia‘s role for the Mattei plan and, in general, for the South of Italy at the centre of the Mediterranean?

«Forza Italia has always been committed to Africa. Silvio Berlusconi has always had a keen eye on Italy’s policy towards Africa and, during the years in which I worked at the EU, I always pushed for direct investment to make all countries grow. Now the Mattei plan, which I am coordinating in Meloni’s absence, goes in this direction and I believe in it very much. Because there is a change of perspective: we want to address the issue with a broad investment strategy based on concrete commitments, with the aim of playing a central role in the Mediterranean for the stabilisation of these friendly countries».

Let us talk about the Campania Region: is it true that you will suggest the name of the candidate for the Presidency of the Region immediately after the vote? Your Deputy at the Foreign Ministry, Edmondo Cirielli, did not take it well and said it is Fdi’s turn.

«I am interested in finding a winning candidate, a good centre-right President for the Campania Region. Forza Italia will make its proposals to the coalition, so that we can decide together. We are clearly ready to evaluate the other parties’ proposals. When Forza Italia strongly emphasised support for its candidates it did so with reason, and the electoral victories are there to prove it. I do not impose anything on anyone, but I do not want others to impose anything on Forza Italia».


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