“We need a major international alliance against the virus.” Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio is just back from the videoconference with colleagues from G7, dedicated to the Covid-19 emergency.
So far, there has not really been a race of solidarity between countries to deal with the epidemic.
“I told my colleagues at G7 that we need to systematise and share data, coordinate initiatives and strengthen them. Health comes before profit. We are willing to share our knowledge, but everyone must do it: the race for the development of a vaccine cannot be an individual one. This is a war where we are all fighting the same enemy. We can only win together”.
You announced the arrival of a few million masks. But we need at least 90 million every month...
“We have unblocked and brought more than 10 million masks to Italy. In the next few hours, the first batch of the 100 million masks produced by a Chinese company is expected to arrive. All the material is not distributed by us but by the Civil Defence and the police station. Obviously, we must also aim at national production. But if this aid had not arrived from abroad, the crisis would have been even more acute.
Many Italians abroad now want to come back.
“We are giving priority to non-residents, students, Erasmus students, those who have lost their jobs, tourists and situations of fragility. We have brought thousands of our fellow countrymen back to Italy. They must stay in self-isolation for 14 days”.
The President of the Council of ministers Conte cultivates relations with Russia; you continuously thank with China. The impression is that the Cold War of the cross-cultural alliances continues even now.
“I don’t have time for polemics. There are no new geopolitical scenarios to trace. There is a country that needs help and other countries that are helping us. Helps is coming from the United States, France, Germany, and Russia. The support from Russia came after the phone call between President Conte and Putin. And this also applies to China, which was the first to respond. This is not the Cold War, this is reality. Or Realpolitik, if you prefer”.
Don’t you think there has been a resounding delay in realising the emergency? Didn’t the government underestimate the situation?
“Many, in the beginning, complained because everything had to be left open and it was just severe influenza. The same ones, days later urged to close everything.”
Do you mean the Regions?
“No, I’m talking about MPs. Never before have the Regions needed support as they do now. The government reacted promptly and did so before many other countries. In this circumstance, no one has all the answers, and we must work together to overcome the emergency”.
Bureaucracy slows everything down: public funds for hospital facilities would be there, but with the private sector it is much faster. Isn’t this a dangerous and discouraging paradox?
“I also find it paradoxical; this is why we have declared a state of emergency and appointed two commissioners to ensure maximum efficiency”.
It didn’t work out so well.
“We cannot waste time; we must put all the necessary measures on the table immediately. It’s useless to keep saying that after this emergency a crisis will open, even an economic one. We are already living a crisis. From now on, we all have to work to support the recovery of the country”.
Some fear that Italy will remain paralysed for another month or more. And proposes a gradual reopening, with active surveillance and tracking using apps like in South Korea. Are you in favour of this solution?
“It is a surreal situation for many reasons. The government had to implement measures that have already affected our constitutional guarantees. We are changing habits and experiencing the pain of not being able to hug our loved ones. But the watchword must be ‘stay at home’. If everyone abides by the rules, we will get out of this crisis sooner.
36 billion could arrive for Italy from the Save-State EMS fund. If the conditionalities could be abolished, could Italy ask for them?
“The EMS is not a viable route as it would only create new debt. The paradigm needs to be changed, allowing European resources to be freed up and strengthening the role of the ECB in supporting states financially. The way must be found together with our partners, using new instruments”.
Are you in favour of issuing Eurobonds?
“More than “Eurobonds”, it is the case to activate “coronabonds”, an instrument that would allow the financing of extraordinary expenses for the emergency. We were among the first to ask for them”.
The idea of a government of national unity, with Mario Draghi, is beginning to set up. Do some people think that asking the opposition for national unity but excluding them could be counterproductive in the long run?
“The path to follow is that of unity. We must all go in the same direction. Precisely for this reason, I find it unacceptable that someone is now talking about new governments. We are facing something unprecedented in history; we have taken unprecedented measures. Is there really someone who dares to speculate about a new government? No kidding, we need to work effortlessly and think about the real thing. For example, providing aids to doctors and nurses”.
Salvini and Meloni ask for the “truth” about “Leonardo”, the video that talks about the 2015 Chinese experiment.
“While the state counts the death is fully committed to helping the doctors, they hunt the virus spreaders to get a few more ‘likes’. Those who love Italy do not spread terror”.