Di Maio is focused on Berlin. Before flying to the Conference on Libya today, the Foreign Minister made a whistlestop trip to Calabria for the forthcoming regional elections, as the political head of his 5-Star Movement. The future of the Movement is still an open issue, for which a solution has not yet been found, although the Minister's main concern and priority, at the moment, is the situation in Libya. «Italy has full confidence in the positive role that Europe can play. Of course - Mr. Di Maio said to Il Messaggero - Italy has a key role to play in ensuring the stabilisation of Libya, but we need to be able to rely on the support of our partners, and we also need to sanction those states that continue to stoke the conflict in this beleaguered country. Sanctions are currently provided by the UN embargo, but they must be enforced».
This will be Italy's position at the Conference today. With the hope - harboured by the Minister - that the other EU countries will lend their full support. «The key issue today is, first and foremost, to strengthen the ceasefire. The next step is to put an end to all foreign intervention in Libya, beginning with the enforcement and monitoring of the arms embargo».
The Foreign Minister encourages the EU to adopt a unified stance, adding, with diplomacy, yet firmness, «To this end, we are engaged in encouraging a more high-profile role by the European Union as a whole. We appreciate the positive response by our European partners to our promptings over the recent weeks, also in view of a possible EU mission to Tripoli, in support of the ceasefire monitoring».
But the stakes are much higher, as emphasised by the Foreign Minister , who adds that «At this critical juncture, either the European Union remain united or else it risks losing its credibility, as well as its face».
So much for the outlook. But what about today's event? Will there finally be the much-desired breakthrough in the Libyan crisis? «We are under no illusions - confesses Di Maio - the Conference is not a point of arrival but only a proper and necessary stage in a complex process that requires more time to play out. Much still remains to be done». One thing is certain, he continues «the Berlin Conference comes at a key moment in the Libyan crisis, not long after the proclamation of a ceasefire on the ground: this is a significant and timely development in the direction we had hoped for. The Conference document - which endorses the Italian indications and priorities - points towards a credible and realistic direction, based on dialogue, to restore peace and security in Libya».
THE GREGORETTI AFFAIR
Tomorrow, on returning from Germany, Mr. Di Maio will be faced with the Gregoretti Affair and the vote by the Committee for the Authorisation of Prosecution regarding Senator Matteo Salvini. Meanwhile, the PD-M5S majority has sharply criticised the President of the Senate, Ms. Elisabetta Casellati, accusing her of lack of impartiality in applying the Senate Regulations. The Minister does not hold back: «What to say about President Casellati's decision? Well, she's taken off the mask she was wearing of unbiased chair of the Senate to put on that of supporter of Mr. Salvini. In my opinion her vote in the Committee has dealt a severe blow to her institutional duties of fairness and impartiality».
This is a direct attack regarding a matter for which Salvini's propaganda machine is engaged in a no holds barred campaign against the 5-Star Movement: they came to his rescue in the case of the kidnapping accusations relating to the Diciotti ship, they won't be doing the same in the case of the Gregoretti ship. Doesn't this difference between then and now risk damaging the Movement? Wouldn't it be better for the Movement to make a clear choice between the centre-left and the centre-right? «What counts for us is getting our proposals through, not who our government partners are», Mr. Di Maio replies, distancing himself once again from those members of his party who would prefer a clear and final word about the Movement's choice of the reformist camp. This issue will be tackled at the March convention, he says in Calabria, when «the internal rules and core values of the Movement will be changed». Di Maio then makes two important admissions: the first is there for everyone to see «The 5-Star Movement is stuck in a rut», followed by a conclusion that opens up new possibilities and scenarios «The political head of the Movement won't be able to pull it out on his own».